ATLANTA, June 10 (UPI) -- With all forms of Blue Bell ice cream products off the market and people being advised not to eat any still remaining in their freezers, the Centers for Disease Control released its final report on the listeriosis outbreak caused by contaminated containers of the frozen treat.
Products from four Blue Bell factories contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria sickened 10 people between January 2010 and January 2015, with all 10 being hospitalized and three deaths as a result.
"This outbreak investigation is over," CDC investigators wrote in the report. "However, people could continue to get sick because recalled products may still be in people's freezers and consumers unaware of the recalls could eat them. Institutions should not serve and retailers should not sell recalled products."
Invesigators in March and April found that several Blue Bell products served at hospitals and one case of a consumer purchase at a store were the cause of the outbreak, leading the company to shut down its factories in Brenham, Texas, Broken Arrow, Okla., and Sylacauga, Ala., and recall of its products on April 20.
"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," said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president, in a press release at the time.
The earliest case of listeria now attributed to Blue Bell was reported in 2010, however a link wasn't made between that first patient and the ice cream company until a routine test by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control discovered the bacteria in samples of two of the company's products at its distribution center there in February.
During the course of March and April, listeria was confirmed to have been found by the CDC at three of Blue Bell's factories and a private lab confirmed it at the fourth in June, nearly two months after the company pulled its products from shelves while working to comply with safety requirements in order to reopen.