Ice cream producer Blue Bell Creameries has removed several products from the market after an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) in Kansas.
The outbreak is thought likely to be linked to certain Blue Bell brand ice cream products.
Five older adults have become ill and three deaths have been reported among these patients. All five people were hospitalized at the same hospital in Kansas for unrelated problems before developing invasive listeriosis. This finding strongly suggests that their infections were acquired in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of the four ill people for whom information is available on the foods eaten before they became infected, all of them had consumed milkshakes made with a single-serving Blue Bell brand ice cream product called "Scoops" while they were in the hospital.
Subsequent tests found that certain Blue Bell brand ice cream products were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Three strains of Listeria monocytogenes isolated from Blue Bell brand ice cream products had pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns that were indistinguishable from those of Listeria monocytogenes isolates obtained from samples from four patients.
Blue Bell Creameries has now removed affected products from the market, but contaminated ice cream products may still be in people's freezers, CDC warned.
The agency has advised consumers, institutions and retailers to check their freezers for any of these products and throw them away, even if some of the product has been eaten and no one has become ill.
Products removed from the market include: Chocolate Chip Country Cookie (SKU #196), Great Divide Bar (SKU #108), Sour Pop Green Apple Bar (SKU #221), Cotton Candy Bar (SKU #216), Scoops (SKU #117), Vanilla Stick Slices (SKU #964), Almond Bars (SKU #156), 6 Pk Cotton Candy Bars (SKU #245), 6 Pk Sour Pop Green Apple Bars (SKU #249) and 12 Pk No Sugar Added Mooo Bars (SKU #343).