In September 2015, Blue Bell recalled cookie dough ice cream due to the risk of Listeria. In April 2015, Blue Bell recalled all ice cream products after 10 people were infected with Listeria, including 3 people who died.
Need a Texas Food Poisoning Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with Listeria after eating Blue Bell ice cream, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit in Texas.
UPDATE: Texas Grand Jury Indicts Blue Bell CEO for Deadly Listeria Outbreak in 2015
In October 2020, a Texas grand jury charged former Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse with wire fraud and conspiracy in connection with a scheme to cover up the company’s sales of Blue Bell’s Listeria-tainted ice cream in 2015, according to the Department of Justice.
After health officials in Texas notified Blue Bell of finding positive Listeria tests in ice cream, Kruse allegedly told employees to remove products from store freezers without informing retailers or consumers about the real reason.
Kruse is also accused of instructing employees to claim there was “an unspecified issue with a manufacturing machine.” Blue Bell did not immediately recall the products or issue any formal communication to inform customers about the potential Listeria contamination.
Blue Bell Ordered to Pay $20 Million Fine After Listeria Cover-Up
In May 2020, the Justice Department ordered Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries to pay $20 million in fines related to a Listeria outbreak.
The company is accused of delaying recalls, failing to notify consumers of contaminated products in a timely manner, and continuing to ship ice cream to stores after being notified of Listeria contamination.
The Justice Department also issued a $2.1 million fine for “ice cream products manufactured under insanitary conditions and sold to federal facilities.”
Former Blue Bell CEO Charged in Listeria Outbreak Cover-Up
Paul Kruse, the former CEO of Blue Bell Creameries was charged with 7 felony counts “related to his alleged efforts to conceal from customers what the company knew about the listeria contamination,” according to the Justice Department.
RECALL: Blue Bell Cookie Dough Ice Cream
On September 20, 2016, Bell Bell recalled two flavors of cookie dough ice cream that may be contaminated with Listeria. Less than a month later, Blue Bell expanded the recall to include 3 more flavors of cookie dough ice cream produced from February 2, 2016 through September 7, 2016.
No illnesses were reported. Blue Bell blamed a third-party cookie dough supplier, but the supplier said their cookie dough tested negative for Listeria before it was shipped. The positive test only came after the cookie dough had been in Blue Bell’s possession for nearly two months.
Products included in the recall:
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — 1/2-gallons and pints
- Cookie Two Step — 1/2-gallons and pints
- Blue Monster — 3-gallon
- Chocolate Chip Cookie — 3-gallon
- Krazy Kookie Dough — 3-gallon
Blue Bell Returns to Stores
In July 2015, Blue Bell started test runs at a facility in Alabama. By August, Blue Bell resumed ice cream production in Alabama and put the first shipments on the road. One year later, all Blue Bell facilities are making ice cream and shipping products to states in the South. Unfortunately, problems have persisted. In January 2016, Listeria was detected at a Blue Bell facility, but not in ice cream. Some employees have also reported unsanitary conditions.
When Were Problems Discovered?
If executives at Blue Bell knew about the problem and failed to take corrective action, they could face criminal charges, jail time, government fines, and lawsuits accusing the company of negligence.
Blue Bell started withdrawing ice cream products about a month before publicly announcing a recall in April 2015. According to the FDA, Listeria contamination was discovered in March 2013. One facility in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma had 17 positive Listeria tests since 2013, but the ice cream itself was never tested.
On at least six occasions, health inspectors found hygiene issues at a Blue Bell ice cream facility in Sycaugua, Alabama as early as 2011. In June 2015, ice cream produced at the facility tested positive for Listeria. Before products were allowed to return in Alabama, Blue Bell had to make an agreement with health officials.
Blue Bell Lawsuit Settlement
In May 2015, a lawsuit (PDF) was filed by a man nearly died of meningitis after eating tainted ice cream. In September 2016, both sides reached a confidential settlement before the case went to trial.
Blue Bell Recalls All Ice Cream Products
On April 20, 2015, Blue Bell recalled all ice cream products after Listeria was found in two half-gallon containers of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Case Count By State
The outbreak infected 10 people in four states: Kansas (5), Texas (3), Arizona (1), and Oklahoma (1). All of the victims were hospitalized. Three patients at one hospital in Kansas died from the infection. The first illnesses were reported in 2010, suggesting an ongoing problem.
Outbreak Linked to 3 Deaths in Kansas
The outbreak has been ongoing since 2010, but was not discovered until March 2015 when the Kansas Department of Health confirmed that five patients at one hospital in Kansas were infected with Listeria. Highly similar strains of Listeria were also found in Blue Bell ice cream. All of the patients were served single-serving ice cream products in milkshakes. Three of the patients died, but it is not clear that Listeria caused their deaths.
Ice Cream and Listeriosis
Health officials say ice cream as a whole does not pose a special risk of food poisoning. However, there are many reasons why Listeria is nearly impossible to eradicate from an ice cream processing facility:
- Listeria survives freezing and thrives at refrigerator temperatures
- It likes to grow in cold, wet spots that are often found in cold-food facilities
- Easily re-introduced to a facility because it is commonly found in the environment (soil and water)
- Frequently causes mastitis in cows, which is why unpasteurized milk products are often contaminated.
Listeria Food Poisoning
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that is commonly found in soil and water. Cows can carry Listeria without appearing ill and contaminate food, including dairy products. Infections are often invasive and can be deadly, especially in older adults, young children, and people with weakened immune systems. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death of a newborn.
Symptoms of Listeriosis
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Back pain
- And more
Blue Bell Ice Cream Class Action
The Clark Firm, LLP is nationally recognized as a class action law firm in Texas, but our trial attorneys are not filing a class action lawsuit against Blue Bell Creameries. Instead, we are filing individual lawsuits and only accepting cases involving people who were diagnosed with Listeria after consuming recalled products.
Need a Food Poisoning Lawyer in Texas?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $260 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact our Texas food poisoning lawyers for a free lawsuit review.