Private lab says listeria found in Alabama-made Blue Bell
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Blue Bell Creameries is reviewing a report from a private laboratory that found evidence of listeria in a carton of ice cream manufactured at its Alabama plant.
Brent McRae, 75, of Florida, who had recently eaten Blue Bell's Cookies 'n Cream ice cream, fell ill with meningitis in April, said his lawyer Bill Marler of Seattle. The man's wife sent the half-gallon container of ice cream to Kappa Laboratories of Miami, and it tested positive for listeria, said Marler, who shared a copy of the report with The Associated Press. A product code on the bottom of the carton indicated it was manufactured in Alabama.
Blue Bell said it is reviewing the test results.
The company issued a national recall after the company's ice cream was linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, and three deaths in Kansas. The contaminated products have been found at the company's Texas and Oklahoma plants, but so far not at its Sylacauga, Alabama, facility.
"We have just had this situation brought to our attention, and we of course take all such matters very seriously," the company said in a statement. "We are reviewing the third-party lab report we have received, but because this overall situation involves litigation, we are not able to discuss any details of the matter."
Marler, a lawyer specializing in foodborne illness cases, said McRae has not filed a lawsuit against Blue Bell, but is considering it.
Health officials have not connected the man's illness to the national outbreak.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with listeria and can cause aches and gastrointestinal symptoms. Listeria is one of several types of bacteria that can cause meningitis, particularly in older adults. McCrae was not officially diagnosed with listeriosis; Marler said he had been given high-dose antibiotics that would have destroyed the listeria.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency is in contact with state health officials, but will not be able to compare the listeria strain in the ice cream to the strains that have made people sick nationwide.
"Our understanding is that, based on the type of testing done, it will not be possible to compare it to the ... strains in the Blue Bell outbreak to say whether or not this is related," the spokeswoman, Christine Pearson, said in a statement. "We remain in contact with state health departments to assist."
The CDC continues to advise consumers not to eat any Blue Bell products.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said she could not comment.
Alabama State Health Officer Don Williamson said state health officials have so far had no reports of any samples of ice cream from the Alabama plant testing positive for listeria.