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Blue Bell Fined $850,000 Due to 2015 Listeria Outbreak

Aug 01, 2016 08:07 AM EDT
Blue Bell Ice Cream
Blue Bell Creameries was fined $850,000 by the Texas health department following the listeria outbreak in 2015 that sickened 10 people.
(Photo : Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Texas Department of State Health Services has fined Blue Bell Creameries with $850,000 for letting contaminated products to enter the market, resulting to a listeria outbreak that sickened at least 10 people and three deaths in 2015.

According to the report from Food Poisoning Bulletin, FDA noted that the company was aware of the presence of Listeria in its plants in 2013, making the outbreak highly preventable. However, Blue Bell did not conduct further tests on the bacteria to know if it's pathogenic. They also did not take any measures to eradicate the bacteria because they are allegedly cutting corners on the sanitation to keep up with the high demand.

During the outbreak, three production facility of Blue Bell in three different states were shut down by the FDA. The company needed to lay off almost half of its workers to cope up with the expenses. The production of ice cream resumed last July.

The health department is requiring the ice cream manufacturer to pay $175,000 to the state within 30 days, while the remaining $675,000 will be forgiven if the company follows the terms outlined in the enforcement agreement for 18 months.

The enforcement agreement requires Blue Bell to test and monitor for listeria in its production facility in Brenham. The health department needs to be notified of the results of the tests taken from their ice creams, food surfaces, machinery, ingredients and other equipments. The company also needs to make sure that their products are free from pathogens before being released in the market.

According to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Listeria causes about 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths in the United States every year. Listeria is a serious infection usually caused by eating foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. It can greatly affect older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened or compromised immune system.

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