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2016-08-04

Texas finalizes penalty agreement with Blue Bell

Special to the Courier

Last week, Texas health officials finalized with Blue Bell Creameries a penalty and agreement that the company will continue to test and monitor its ice cream following last year’s outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Blue Bell products made in Brenham.
The total penalty amount is $850,000. Of that, $175,000 must be paid within 30 days. The remaining balance will not have to be paid if the company follows the terms outlined in the agreement for 18 months. The penalty was issued against the company because it allowed adulterated product to enter the marketplace and cause illness.
The enforcement agreement between Blue Bell and the Texas Department of State Health Services extends several requirements from a previous agreement for the next 18 months.
Blue Bell must continue to notify DSHS 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.
Last year, the company temporarily shut down its Brenham operation following the discovery of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ice cream products that were linked to several cases of Listeriosis. At the time, Texas health officials outlined requirements and milestones the company had to reach before releasing ice cream into the marketplace. State health inspectors periodically were on site at the Brenham plant to evaluate test results and records, review cleaning procedures and assess training activities.
The company is currently producing, testing and selling ice cream made at the plant.