Listeria Outbreak at Bluebell Creamery

Food safety is always a concern, particularly in large food manufacturing facilities and commercial kitchens. However it’s sometimes easy to get complacent when things are going well. When that happens, the consequence can be devastating.

One particularly nasty bacteria is Listeria. It’s found in soil, water, and in some animals such as poultry and cattle. It’s also found in foods made from raw milk. Listeria can grow in cold refrigerated environments and contaminate surfaces it comes in contact with. The only way to kill it is through heat and pasteurization, and regular disciplined cleaning of food prep equipment and utensils.

Blue Bell Creameries recently suffered a major setback when a Listeria contamination shut down the plant’s operations in April 2015. The outbreak affected four states, sent 10 people to the hospital and caused three deaths. The company along with the FDA rigorously went through the company facilities and found the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in more than one product and in more than one of its manufacturing plants. The company had to recall all of its ice cream and frozen dairy products.

It took four months before Bluebell was even able to resume limited distribution of ice cream. The company is now in phase two of a five phase plan for bringing their operations completely back online.

Bluebell company officials are grateful for the patience that the public has shown and for the continued support they have been given for their products. In an effort to ensure continued public trust and support, the company is promising to closely monitor and test all of its product lines so that something like this never happens again.


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