Experts: Take Blue Bell ice cream threat seriously

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 21, 2015)-- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it believes a listeria outbreak from Blue Bell ice cream products stems back to 2010. Ten people in four states got sick by the bacteria assumed to be inside those items, and three people in Kansas died in the past year after consuming Blue Bell products.

Monday, Blue Bell voluntarily recalled all of its frozen products after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria.

All across central Indiana Tuesday, empty shelves in grocery stores told the tale of a massive recall gripping a century-old ice cream maker.

"Be aware of not only what you've had in your freezer and eaten in the past three months but also your own health," said Thomas Duszynski, an epidemiologist at the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.

Duszynski said listeriosis can have a 70-day incubation period, but the average time is about three weeks. Symptoms include fever, fatigue and muscle aches.

Blue Bell initiated recalls of some of its products weeks ago, but the company voluntarily pulled everything Monday after listeria showed up in ice cream samples.

"Consumers should feel somewhat safe in knowing that companies are not only doing the right thing in testing products but getting information back out to people when something like this occurs," said Duszynski.

Earlier this month, Sabra recalled 30,000 cases of classic hummus for possible listeria contamination. Add Blue Bell's recall, and you've got doubtful shoppers.

"It's bothersome. Everybody likes to stay safe," said Paula Chappell.

"It's definitely concerning," said Ryan Griesemer.

Duszynski said food handling and processing in our country is safe, maybe more so now than ever, though right now it may not seem like it.

"The testing wasn't as rigorous ten years ago as it is today because more consumers are demanding product safety," he said.

Blue Bell opened a distribution center in 2011 on Indy's northwest side. The company said the recall will take two to three weeks, and distribution center employees are picking up the recalled products.

Blue Bell said you can get a full refund by taking the product back to the place where you brought it.

We found Blue Bell items sold at Meijer, Wal-Mart, Marsh and Fresh Thyme. A spokesperson said Indianapolis-area Kroger stores do not sell Blue Bell ice cream products.

Public health experts advise if you get sick, and you've eaten Blue Bell products, see a doctor.