Blue Bell faces penalties after listeria outbreak

BRENHAM, Texas, July 30 (UPI) — Blue Bell Creameries agreed to pay $850,000 following a listeria outbreak that left three dead, Texas health officials said.

The company must pay $175,000 of the fine within 30 days and the remainder within 18 months. The company “allowed adulterated product to enter the market place and cause illness,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said. Blue Bell must also agree to notify the state of any positive Listeria test results and must allow state inspectors full access to the plant.

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“The company must maintain its ‘test and hold’ procedures for all finished product, meaning ice cream must be found to be free of pathogens before it can be sold to the public. As a licensed frozen dessert manufacturer, the company also must continue to provide state inspectors with full access to the plant to take samples,” the health department said.

In 2015, Blue Bell voluntarily recalled all of its products after three people died and several were sickened following a listeria outbreak.

The company shuttered operations and laid off some 1,400 workers in response to the outbreak. All of its products, including ice cream and sherbet, was pulled from shelves for four months, almost crippling the 109-year-old company.

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