October 13, 2015 — Two former employees of a Blue Bell ice cream facility in Texas claim management ignored complaints about unsanitary conditions long before a deadly Listeria outbreak.
In exclusive interviews with CBS News, the employees said the outbreak could have been much worse if it were not for a “random” positive Listeria test at a facility in South Carolina.
The outbreak had been ongoing since 2010. At least 10 people were infected with Listeria, including three people who died in Kansas.
Terry Schultz worked at Blue Bell for seven months. He claims machines were old, broke frequently, and he would often arrive at work to find ice cream pooled on the floor, creating an environment where bacteria could flourish. He said his complaints to supervisors were ignored.
Gerald Bland, a 5-year employee of Blue Bell, operated a fruit feeder in another part of the plant. He said reused packaging brought grime into the factory. Oil leaked from his machine directly into ice cream, water from the roof dripped into the production area, and the plant would flood after heavy rains. Mr. Bland also said production continued as normal for two months after Listeria was detected at a facility in South Carolina.
The eyewitness accounts back up inspection reports released by the FDA in May 2015. Inspectors observed condensate “dripping directly onto ice cream products” and found Listeria in multiple products, even after Blue Bell stopped production to clean the facility.
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