Blue Bell-linked listeria outbreak prompts questions, grief

Shelves that once held Blue Bell ice cream products are empty Tuesday. The company is recalling everything after an outbreak of listeria. The bacterium has killed three people and made seven others sick in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Lois Porter is still reeling from the death of her husband Richard, last year. He'd been taken to a Kansas hospital for intestinal problems, when his health quickly began deteriorating.

"His blood was, the doctor said, teeming with listeria," said Porter. "So he had it really bad by the time it was diagnosed."

Richard Porter was one of five patients at a Kansas hospital who contracted listeria over a one-year period. After three of the patients died, state health officials determined they had all been served Blue Bell ice cream. Listeria was listed as a contributing factor in their deaths.

Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse released an Internet video overnight.

"We are heartbroken over the situation and apologize to all our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers," he said.

Severity of Listeria | HealthGrove

The company traced the bacteria to two factories -- one in Texas, the other in Oklahoma. The company is not sure how the listeria was introduced into their facilities.

"Right now what we're concerned about is the safety of our consumers," said company spokesperson Joe Robertson. "So we're going to go in the marketplace, get all of our products out and make sure that whatever's out there is safe to consume."

As for Lois Porter, she's wary of any Blue Bell products.

"They are responsible for the purity of their product," she said. "Of course, it's their fault. But I do feel sorry for them. It may wreck their business."

If you have any Blue Bell products in your freezer, you should throw them away, or return them to the store to get a refund. The company is working with the FDA and local health officials to try to determine the source of the contamination.

Listeria Cases by Year | HealthGrove
  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.