Deadly Listeria Outbreak Costs Blue Bell Ice Cream $850,000

The Blue Bell Creamery, which is based in Texas, finally reached an agreement with state health officials resulting from penalties incurred in relation to last year’s deadly listeria outbreak. That well-remembered outbreak resulted in three deaths in the U.S. and severely sickened at least 10 additional people. State health officials fined Bluebell $850,000, but Eater has issued a report that confirms the company may pay only a fraction of that amount.

Currently, Blue Bell Creamery is committed to paying $175,000 over the course of the next 30 days. The company will avoid paying the additional $675,000 if it continues to test and monitor for listeria within all its production facilities. Any positive test results must be reported to health officials immediately. The company will be required to test all finished products, ingredients, and surfaces for a minimum of 18 months.

One former Blue Bell employee claims that the massive listeria outbreak could have been prevented. The ex-employee told reporters that the ice cream giant was cutting corners on sanitation in order to expedite production and keep up with high demands for the product. One customer in Houston filed a lawsuit last year after the recall, claiming he “d*** near died” as a result of a listeria infection he contracted in 2013 as a result of consuming Blue Bell products. The United States Justice Department launched an investigation in December in order to determine whether or not company officials were aware of the dangers of foodborne disease at each of their distributing plants. The Justice Department had vowed to crack down on companies believed to be responsible for foodborne illness outbreaks and the Blue Bell investigation held them true to that vow.

The Bluebell Creamery flagship production house is in located in Brenham, Texas. But reports confirm that the flagship location was not the only location to test positive for listeria during the investigation. According to reports issued to the FDA, Blue Bell believes the hazardous strain of bacteria spread to equipment at its Oklahoma location. The company believes the strain of deadly bacteria entered the facility through a floor drain in a storage room. As a result of the outbreak, Blue Bell conducted a massive recall, and was forced to halt production. Obviously, the undertaking cost the company a substantial amount of money. As a result of the recall, Blue Bell laid off 1,450 employees, which represented nearly half of its working staff at the time, in an effort to save money. Blue Bell resumed production last July and is still feeling the strain, no pun intended, and the backlash associated with the listeria incident.

View a copy of the agreement between the state of Texas and Blue Bell Creamery below.

Consumers should know that Blue Bell isn’t the only company in the U.S. that has fallen victim to a listeria outbreak. Social media outlets have been rife with posts about other food production facilities that are recalling products due to listeria.

If you or someone you love may have been exposed to listeria, it is advised that you seek medical assistance immediately.

[Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]

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