Ice cream addicts no doubt had a meltdown last month when a listeria outbreak prompted Blue Bell Creameries to recall its products. Ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet disappeared from grocery store freezers and federal health experts urged consumers to toss out their stashes at home.
Despite the warnings, some are attempting to capitalize on America’s ice cream shortage, building a black market for Blue Bell treats online where one pint of Blue Bell Krazy Kookie Dough carries a $10,000 price tag on Craigslist, not that anyone will pay it.
“What we have here is one pint of unopened Blue Bell goodness,” according to the Craigslist advertisement. “Purchased just mere weeks ago, this is like an oasis in the desert for you ice cream lovers. Buyer assumes all responsibility for transport, and or any Listeria contracted from product as well.”
Blue Bell in Brenham, Tex., announced the recall April 20 after it found listeria in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17 and March 27. “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,” Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse said in a statement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then recommended: “Do not eat any Blue Bell brand products.”
The life-threatening bacteria poses a high risk to pregnant women and their babies, adults older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC. In some cases, people who are infected may only suffer symptoms such as fever, headaches, stiffness and nausea. In other cases, infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women. Even death. Three people have died from the outbreak, according to the CDC. And infections have been been reported in in Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas, also according to the CDC.
But the recall doesn’t seem to have halted what purports to be an underground ice cream market.
Late last month, CBS DFW discovered a Cookies and Cream tub for sale on eBay for $50 dollars and some Dutch Chocolate for $10. EBay later told the station that it had removed all Blue Bell ice cream listings. Indeed, a search for Blue Bell ice cream on the site now fails to bring up any food-related results. But Craigslist is still a treasure trove for ice cream contraband.
A seller near Dallas has posted an advertisement for a half-empty tub of Homemade Vanilla for $500. The listing claims the already-eaten portion serves as the buyer’s insurance policy. “No listeria,” it says, “(I ate the first half and I’m still here). I am willing to sample the blue bell in front of legitimate buyers.”
A half pint of vanilla is going for $2,000 in Austin. According to the seller:
This is the real deal folks! Collectors ice cream at its finest! Be the talk of the neighborhood when you’re the only one with their very own, completely disease free, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla! How do I know it’s disease free? Well, I ate half of it about 5 months ago, you know, for quality control, and I feel great! From that point on I kept it in a high grade stainless steel freezer vault for the best possible collectors quality. This is mint condition! (Not to be confused with mint chocolate chip, I ate all that sh*t). No lookie Lou’s, tire kickers, or spam (unless it’s vintage, trades considered). Will also consider trade for a Corvette Stingray or home in Hyde Park.
A half gallon of coffee ice cream is listed for $2,500 in Waco. And the $4,000 “mother lode” near Austin includes partially-empty gallons of strawberry and vanilla as well as two strawberry fruit bars. In case consumers are wondering: “Yes this is real,” the ad says. “I looked up the codes and these were not part of the listeria recall.”
Before the listeria outbreak, Blue Bell would ship four half gallons to consumers anywhere in the country for $129. However, the company’s order page now says it has suspended service. And on its Q&A page, when asked, “should people eat old Blue Bell products?” it says no.
“Please don’t consume Blue Bell products,” the company says. “Instead, please return the product to the store where you purchased it for a refund.”
h/t Food Safety News