Blue Bell fined $850,000 for Listeria outbreak

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Blue Bell Creameries will have to pay $175,000 in fines for the Listeria outbreak that killed three people and hospitalized 10 in 2015. While the total penalty amount is actually $850,000, only $175,000 will have to be paid within the next 30 days since Texas health officials came to an agreement that the remaining balance will be dismissed if the company follows terms outlined.

The penalty was issued against the company because it “allowed adulterated product to enter the marketplace and cause illness,” according to a press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The company must comply with the following for the next 18 months to avoid the full penalty:

  • Test and monitor its ice cream
  • Notify the state of any presumptive positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes in ice cream, ingredients, food surfaces, machinery and other equipment in its Brenham plant
  • Must maintain its “test and hold” procedures for all finished product (ice cream must be found to be free of pathogens before it can be sold to the public)
  • Must continue to provide state inspectors with full access to the plant to take samples

In April of last year, Blue Bell had to shutter operations at its Brenham plant following the discovery of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ice cream products that were linked to several cases of Listeriosis. After intensive cleaning, training and inspections, Blue Bell started producing ice cream at the Brenham location in November.

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