July 29, 2016: Texas Officials Finalize Penalty Agreement With Blue Bell Creameries

Blue Bell Penalty Agreement News – In a press release dated July 29, 2016, Texas health officials reported that a penalty agreement with Blue Bell Creameries had been finalized. As a result of last year’s Listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell products made in Brenham, TX, the company will pay a monetary penalty and must continue to test and monitor its ice cream products.

Blue Bell Penalty Agreement

According to the press release, the total penalty amount is for $850,000, of which $175,000 must be paid within 30 days. The remaining balance will not have to be paid if Blue Bell follows the terms outlined in the agreement for 18 months. The penalty was issued against Blue Bell Creameries because it allowed contaminated or “adulterated” products to enter the marketplace and cause injury to consumers.

The enforcement agreement extends several requirements from a previous agreement for the next 18 months, including the following:

  • Blue Bell must continue to notify [Texas Department of State Health Services] of any presumptive positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes in ice cream, ingredients, food surfaces, machinery and other equipment in its Brenham plant.
  • 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.

In 2015, Blue Bell temporarily closed its Brenham plant following the discovery of Listeria in certain ice cream products that were linked to 10 cases of listeriosis. The CDC reported that a total of 10 people with listeriosis related to this outbreak were reported across four states as follows: Arizona (1), Kansas (5), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (3). All of those sickened were hospitalized and three deaths from Kansas were reported.

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