How Ice Cream Becomes Contaminated
If we keep ice cream in the home freezer too long, it develops that funky smell and taste. But we don’t think of the ice cream as being contaminated or as having the potential to kill us. After all, it’s a frozen product and bacteria and germs can’t grow in a freezer.
That would be a wrong and possibly fatal way of thinking. Three people this past week have died as a result of eating contaminated ice cream. Two more people were infected with a bacteria after eating ice cream, but remain alive and will hopefully recover.
All five people ate Blue Bell ice cream. The ice cream in question has since been recalled, but just how is it possible for a frozen product to become contaminated?
According to the article that Gianfrancesco Genoso read, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ice cream contained bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Close to 2,000 people become sick each year after eating a food that contains this type of bacteria, which also causes one-third of of food poisoning related deaths.
Listeria monocytogenes grows very well in cold conditions, such as a refrigerator or freezer set at 40 degrees. That’s cold enough for ice cream not to melt and warm enough for Listeria monocytogenes to grow. The longer food is stored in the refrigerator or freezer, the greater the risk for bacteria to grow on the food.
In recent cases of Blue Bell ice cream contamination, it’s thought that machinery at the factory was contaminated and passed into the ice cream during the manufacturing process.