Three deaths linked to tainted ice cream in Kansas, prompting recall

Three patients at a Kansas hospital have died after eating Blue Bell Creameries ice cream tainted with listeria, but food-borne illness was not the sole cause of their deaths, health officials said Saturday.

“These people had been in and out of the hospital for other reasons,” Sara Belfry, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told the Los Angeles Times. “This was a contributing cause, not the only cause.”

Ice Cream Linked to Deadly Listeria Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all five people were being treated in the same hospital for unrelated problems. Four of the victims drank milkshakes made with a single serving of Blue Bell’s Scoops ice cream at the hospital, a finding “that strongly suggests their infections were acquired in the hospital,” the CDC said.

The outbreak was linked to products made on a single production line at the company’s plant in Brenham, Texas, officials said. The outbreak has prompted the first product recall in the company’s history. The latest illness occurred two months ago, according to the FDA.

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Listeria bacteria were found in Blue Bell Creameries’ single-serving Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwiches, No Sugar Added Mooo Bars, Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Great Divide Bars, Vanilla Stick Slices and Almond Bars, the company said in a statement.

“This withdrawal in no way includes our half gallons, quarts, pints, cups, three-gallon ice cream or the majority of take-home frozen snack novelties,” the company said.

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Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, the CDC said. A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Update

4:05 p.m.: This story has been updated to say tainted ice cream contributed to three fatalities but was not the single cause of the deaths.

This story originally posted at 12 p.m.

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