May 7, 2015 — Blue Bell Creameries knew about Listeria contamination in its Oklahoma manufacturing facility as early as March 2013, but failed to recall the products for another two years, according to the FDA.
Today, the FDA released inspection reports from Blue Bell facilities in Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The FDA said Blue Bell also continued to ship ice cream to hospitals and grocery stores after inadequately cleaning the plant.
Since 2010, at least 10 people in four states were infected with Listeria, including three hospital patients in Kansas who died.
According to the Associated Press, investigators found numerous violations:
“The most extensive violations were found in Oklahoma, where the FDA released 16 separate positive tests for Listeria on equipment and in ice cream from March 2013 through January 2015.”
The Oklahoma facility had dirty equipment, inadequate food storage, food being held at improper temperatures, and employees who did not wash their hands properly.
There were also violations at facilities in Texas, where investigators saw condensation dripping directly onto food and surfaces that contacted food. In Alabama, workers were observed employees wearing dirty clothing while working with food.
Listeria was traced to the Texas facility by officials from South Carolina back in February. In March, Blue Bell recalled ice cream produced in Oklahoma. The next month, the company recalled all of its ice cream products produced at all of its facilities.
The products have not yet returned to store shelves, and executives at Blue Bell called a return by Memorial Day “ambitious.”
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