Listeria Traced To Blue Bell Plant In Alabama
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control announced its investigation into the Blue Bell ice cream listeria outbreak has ended. Reports released by the FDA found evidence of the bacteria in numerous samples taken from plants located in Oklahoma and Alabama and appeared to confirm findings from a private lab in Florida.
The lab was reported to have found traces of the potentially deadly bacteria in a April 7 sample taken from a carton of ice cream that had been partially consumed. All four Blue Bell plants have been closed since April.
The company released the following statement on June 9th:
'Blue Bell Outlines Comprehensive Actions Underway in Response to FDA Inspection Reports
Company pledges to “reassess everything about our operations across the company – from facility and equipment layout to employee training”
June 9, 2015, Brenham, TX – Blue Bell Creameries has provided the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a detailed list of corrective actions that are underway in response to the agency’s inspection reports of Blue Bell’s Brenham, Texas, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Sylacauga, Alabama, ice cream production facilities.
Blue Bell is taking the FDA observations very seriously, according to CEO and President Paul Kruse, noting that the company’s highest priority is to produce safe, wholesome, high-quality products for consumers to enjoy.
The company is currently in the process of comprehensively reviewing all aspects of operations at the three facilities. Because listeria is ubiquitous in the environment, the company has adopted a broadly focused remediation plan aimed at confronting any possible sources of contamination.
This process has led Blue Bell to “reassess everything” about its operations and identify a number of enhancements that will be made, including updated environmental and product testing procedures.
The company is focusing on ensuring that all aspects of its facilities and production lines are clean and sanitary, and result in a safe product, Kruse said.
Blue Bell is taking a consistent approach at all of its facilities, and will be using the same standard operating procedures, testing programs, supplier verification procedures, and overall philosophy at the three plants.
“We hope our efforts demonstrate the seriousness with which we are taking this situation, as well as our commitment to making sure we get this right,” Kruse said. “We are committed to seeing this plan through and to working with the FDA each step of the way. Once Blue Bell, the FDA and the applicable state regulators agree we are ready to reintroduce products into commerce, we plan to resume production with a phased-in selection of flavors and sizes, expanding only after our revised programs have demonstrated they are capable of ensuring product safety.”
There is no information on when the plants might reopen.