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Health

Blue Bell Broadens Listeria-Spurred Recall

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Listeria has been found in another Blue Bell Creameries ice cream product following the discovery that five Kansans had become ill due to an outbreak associated with other Blue Bell products. Three of those people later died.

Schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions that purchased single-serve cups of Blue Bell ice cream are being urged to return them as a listeria-related recall broadened on Tuesday.

Multiple state and federal agencies launched an investigation of Blue Bell products earlier this month after five Kansans who ate them at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in Wichita became sick with listeriosis, a potentially-serious bacterial infection. Three of them died.

Officials said Tuesday that the investigation indicated that three-ounce cups of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream that the company sold to institutions and food service companies in 23 states, including Kansas and Missouri, could also be contaminated.

Listeria cannot be spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal distress.

The latest results are of concern because people with compromised immune systems, including the sick, elderly and others in institutions, are at increased risk.

The retail products that were part of the initial recall were produced in a Texas plant. The single-serve cups now being recalled were produced at a facility in Broken Arrow, Okla. The cups were not sold through retail outlets but distributed only to institutions like hospitals and schools.

Blue Bell said it was working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to resolve the issue.

Andy Marso is a reporter for KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

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