Product Liability: 3 Dead, Several Ill After Eating Ice Cream

recall-signWe have faith in companies to produce safe products, and we should be able to. After all, businesses are bound by codes of ethics, and overseen by regulatory agencies. Even still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls hundreds of products every year, affecting millions of consumers. Recently, the national brand Blue Bell, has come under fire for producing bacteria-laden ice cream; three people in Kansas have died and ten people in four states have fallen ill from the bacteria, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Tainted Blue Bell Ice Cream

The bacteria found in several types of Blue Bell ice cream products is listeria monocytogenes, which causes an infection called listeriosis. Although it’s rare, it can be fatal for people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and young children, plus is especially dangerous for pregnant women. Bacterium can incubate for days or weeks after being consumed before symptoms of listeriosis manifest. It generally presents itself with gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, at its onset. Fever, chills, and muscle aches may also accompany the condition.

The Initial Recall

Between December 2013 and January 2015, five patients at a Kansas hospital became ill with listeriosis. It was discovered that four of them had consumed milkshakes containing Blue Bell ice cream. Because these individuals were already hospitalized for unrelated illnesses, they were especially sensitive to the effects of listeriosis, and three of them died. The items were traced back to contaminated equipment at a Blue Bell production facility in Texas. Blue Bell was quick to respond and recall all known contaminated products when the link was discovered in March 2015. At the time, the company announced that the only items contaminated were single-serve products, designed for, and sold only to, institutions like hospitals and schools.

Discovering More Contamination

While Blue Bell seemingly focused on correcting the issues at their Texas plant, the FDA continued its investigation as well. As part of their research, they tested additional products found at the Kansas hospital and discovered that single-serve products from an Oklahoma plant were contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, too. The FDA notified Blue Bell, and the company shut down its Oklahoma plant and recalled the products in question.
Weeks after Blue Bell was notified that products from their Texas plant were contaminated, the FDA found even more trouble, when pints of Banana Pudding ice cream tested positive for listeria monocytogenes.

And Even More…

The CDC has a full list of Blue Bell’s recalled products on its website, and consumers are advised to discard any recalled ice cream, or return it to the store for a refund. Many retailers are not taking any chances, and have temporarily removed all Blue Bell products from their freezers. Investigations by numerous government agencies are still underway to determine the full scope of the contamination.

If You’ve Become Sick, a Product Liability Attorney Can Help

Sadly, it appears as if Blue Bell has only been responding to things the FDA has uncovered, and hasn’t been independently proactive in preventing additional deaths or injuries. As time goes on, it’s quite likely the families of the injured and deceased will obtain legal representation and courts may provide compensation if it’s found that Blue Bell is responsible. If you’ve become ill as a result of a contaminated product, you may be entitled to help with your medical bills and other expenses. For a free consultation with one of our product liability attorneys, please contact Villani & DeLuca P.C. at 888-389-9533 as soon as possible.