Blue Bell Ice Cream expands listeria-related recall

Blue Bell ice cream Image copyright AP
Image caption Blue Bell is expanding its recall, which began in March after five people fell ill in Kansas

US ice cream firm Blue Bell has expanded a recall to include all of its products because of a potentially lethal bacteria contamination.

In a statement, the Texas-based firm said its ice cream, frozen yoghurt and other products could be contaminated with listeria.

The bacteria can cause "serious and sometimes fatal infections".

The recall began last month in response to the deaths of three people in Kansas who had eaten Blue Bell's ice cream.

Tests later revealed that five people in Kansas and three in Texas had been made ill by the bacteria. A batch of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream was linked to the outbreak.

Blue Bell now says that after further inspections, it found the bacterial infection had contaminated not just one batch, but several of its factories.

It said it "can't say with certainty'' how the bacteria was introduced to the manufacturing line.

Image copyright Bluebell
Image caption Blue Bell initially issued a recall for its chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in March

"We're committed to doing the 100% right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe," said chief executive Paul Kruse in a statement.

He added the company would be instituting a new procedure called "test and hold", in which all of its products will be tested first and held until the results indicate the products are safe.

This is the first recall in the 108-year-old company's history.

It comes just a few weeks after Sabra Dipping Co recalled 30,000 cases of hummus, because of possible contamination with the same poisonous bacteria.

Listeria is a food-borne organism which can cause fever and nausea. In most cases, people make full recoveries.

But it can be fatal to people with weakened immune systems and lead to miscarriages among pregnant women.

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