Blue Bell Creameries has signed a voluntary agreement with the Alabama Department of Public Health laying out a series of steps the company plans to take to control Listeria contamination before its products may legally be sold there again. The company has a plant in Sylacauga, AL, which is currently closed.
The Blue Bell agreement with Alabama health authorities states that the company will be:
- Conducting root cause analyses to identify the potential for Listeria or actual sources;
- Retaining an independent microbiology expert to help establish and review controls to prevent the future introduction of Listeria;
- Notifying the Alabama Department of Public Health promptly of any presumptive positive test result for Listeria monocytogenes found in ingredients or finished product samples and providing the state agencies full access to all testing;
- Ensuring that the company’s Pathogen Monitoring Program for Listeria in the plant environment outlines how the company will respond to presumptive positive tests for Listeria species, and,
- Instituting a “test and hold” program to assure that products are safe before they are shipped or sold.
As I said to the Austin American Statesman:
However, several Alabama state health inspection reports hinted at these issues years earlier — a sign that neither Blue Bell nor the FDA were paying enough attention to food safety at the facility, as the FDA only visited after news of the listeria concerns were out, said Bill Marler, a Seattle-based food-borne illness lawyer who has been watching the Blue Bell case.
“The FDA and Blue Bell were not paying attention to the warning signs that could have prevented this disaster,” Marler said. “If you look at it critically, it screams at you, ‘My God, you have the potential for a Listeria problem.’ I think Blue Bell is really fortunate that this outbreak didn’t sicken hundreds. They are very lucky as it is.”
Listeria: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.