FDA Report Alleges Blue Bell Has Known About Listeria Contamination In Its Products Since 2013

Last week, Southern ice cream company Blue Bell was forced to take its ice cream off store shelves after three people died and 10 were hospitalized due to what is suspected to be listeria contamination. Now, a new report from the Food and Drug Administration has surfaced, alleging that Blue Bell knew about the potential listeria contamination since as far back as 2013. However, according to the federal documents, even though they warned Blue Bell about the presence of listeria in its production facilities, the company failed to do anything about it. Blue Bell has not yet responded to Bustle's request for comment.

According to the FDA inspection report from its investigation of Blue Bell’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, the facilities tested positive for listeria five times in 2013, 10 times in 2014, and two thus far in 2015. The FDA report read, “Specifically you failed to demonstrate your cleaning and sanitizing program is effective in controlling recurring microbiological contaminations.” The report claims that surfaces including the floor in front of a freezer and a drain behind a flavor tank tested positive for listeria. However, despite the positive tests, the report alleges that Blue Bell failed to make any substantive adjustments.

Moreover, the report also claims that the possibility of contamination was not just limited to this Oklahoma facility. Plants in Brenham, Texas, and in Sylacauga, Alabama, also allegedly demonstrated signs of possible sanitation failures. According to the report, tests on the facilities showed a “presumptive positive” or a “high likelihood” for listeria on various surfaces in the facilities.

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As of this point, all Blue Bell products have been removed from stores and the ice cream company said Thursday that it will be several months before its products reappear in stores. Blue Bell’s chief executive Paul Kruse said on the recall:

We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe.

The recall included the collection of an estimated 8 million gallons of ice cream off store shelves, according to BuzzFeed. Meanwhile, the company has also promised to work on “major plant upgrades and employee training.”

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