Blue Bell Creameries’ big ice cream recall in April has focused attention on the need to prevent listeria contamination, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Government records indicate the company failed to follow industry practices that would have prevented listeria contamination at all three of its main plants. The April recall came after health officials tied the ice cream to three deaths in a Kansas hospital since early 2015 and other illnesses.
Inspection records from the Food and Drug Administration indicate sanitation issues that created refuges for listeria persisted at the company at least since 2009.
Blue Bell repeatedly found listeria in its Broken Arrow, Okla., facility beginning in 2013, including on floors, a drain and equipment that fills containers with ice cream.
In May, Blue Bell laid off 37 percent of its 3,900 workers and warned shareholders it faced a capital crisis that could force its closing. Last month, the company secured a loan from Texas billionaire Sid Bass for up to $125 million.
On Tuesday, the company said after conducting test runs at its Sylacauga, Ala., facility, the company was producing ice cream. The company said it will not release product from inventory until the company, the FDA and Alabama regulators are assured the ice cream is safe.
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