Blue Bell announced a scheduled return to Dallas-Fort Worth and other northern parts of Texas by the second of November. No doubt, fans of the brand are as excited about that return as people in Houston and Austin were when Blue Bell products returned to store shelves in those parts of the state at the end of August.
Sadly, the ice cream won’t come from the “Little Creamery in Brenham” because the plant there is still closed down. The company pulled all of its products from store shelves in April after a series of smaller recalls failed to solve the problem of contaminated ice cream getting sold to the public and making people sick. Even though Blue Bell’s brand image is that of the country creamery that they originally started from, they actually rank third in U.S. ice cream production.
A Short History of the Blue Bell Recall
Ironically, the push for a recall didn’t start in Texas, where the company has its headquarters. Instead, health officials in South Carolina found samples at a local distribution center that tested positive for contamination by listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria, usually just called listeria, can cause health issues that range from symptoms of mild food poisoning to meningitis. Particularly vulnerable people include seniors, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems.
As health officials in South Caroline worked with those in Texas, cases of illnesses that could be tracked back to Blue Bell products started to turn up. For example, five people in a Kansas hospital were given Blue Bell ice cream in the hospital while being treated for other illnesses, and they developed symptoms that could be traced back to their frozen desserts. The company began with a series of small and isolated recalls in March. By the time of the full recall in April, health officials had tracked down 10 cases of serious listeria poisoning, including four deaths, that could be linked to the ice cream company.
Was Blue Bell Negligent?
Even after health officials from Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the federal government reported that they found contaminated ice cream from the company’s plants, Blue Bell tried to maintain a narrow focus. Until the April recall, they would only close those lines that had already been discovered by the authorities.
Even more damaging, the company did already have an environmental testing plan in place. They had records of positive listeria tests dating back to 2013. However, they only tested parts of the plants that didn’t have direct contact with their food products. It appears that management believed that they got around making reports to the FDA this way. They were only required to file a report if they believed there was a reasonable probability that the contamination would make people sick. It’s certainly not clear why they didn’t test the actual surfaces that would make contact with their products.
The Personal Injury Case Against Blue Bell
Even one food safety lawyer who was quoted in the Dallas Observer admits that food companies have a hard time ensuring that no food will ever get contaminated. However, to keep consumer’s trust, companies need to constantly test for contamination and rapidly work to address the issues. In this experts’s opinion, Blue Bell seemed more interested in controlling news of the outbreak than controlling the outbreak. In addition to its other troubles, these actions have made the company the focus of personal injury lawsuits. Claims have been made that Blue Bell didn’t do enough to prevent the problem or even address it after it became clear.
What to Do When Contaminated Food Makes You Sick
Has contaminated food from negligent food producers made you or a loved one sick? If so, contact R.E. Lopez & Associates to discuss the merits of your case during a free consultation.
main source: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/blue-bells-listeria-problem-is-a-sticky-mess-7359432