Blue Bell Ice Cream Recalls All Products Over Listeria Worries

3 min read

Everything is bigger in Texas – including product recalls.

On Monday, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall of all products, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks. The ice cream company made the decision to recall the products after discovering listeria, a dangerous bacteria, in samples from two half gallons of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream as well as several positive tests for listeria in different places and plants and patients in Kansas and Texas testing positive for the organism.

"We’re committed to doing the 100 percent 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," Blue Bell CEO and president Paul Kruse said in a statement. "Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem."

Related: With GM's Massive Recall, Is Corporate Culture to Blame?

The company has not yet determined how listeria, which can cause symptoms including fever, headaches and nausea and can lead to fatal infections for children, the elderly and others with weakened immune systems, was introduced to Blue Bell facilities. Kruse says the company originally believed that the listeria was isolated to one machine in one room of the company's production chain, but has realized the potential for contamination is much greater than previously believed.

Moving forward, Blue Bell will be testing all products prior to releasing them to market. Additionally, the company will increase cleaning, sanitizing and testing systems and provide additionally employee training. 

So far, the reach of tainted Blue Bell products has been relatively small -- only eight patients in Kansas and Texas have tested positive for listeria, while the recall will affect 23 states plus international locations. However, the drastic move to pull all products currently looks like the company's best option.

In the '80s, Johnson & Johnson set the gold standard for aggressive product recalls when the company spent $100 million to recall Extra-Strength Tylenol across the country after seven people died after ingesting poisoned capsules in Chicago. This decision to go big and retain the public's trust has influenced customers' praise for Fitbit's similarly aggressive recall tactics and criticism for General Motors dangerously slow response recalling cars with defective ignition switches. Especially since Blue Bell originally only issued a limited recall, spending major money on a massive recall now may be the best way for the 108-year-old company to salvage its reputation as a company ice cream lovers can trust.  

Related: Decisions, Decisions: What Separates Leaders From the Rest

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