July 10, 2020

Anybody Checked Blue Bell’s Third Plant in Alabama for Listeria?

Listeria has been found in products made at two Blue Bell locations, Brenham Texas and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. But what about the company’s third plant in Sylacauga, Alabama?

Blue Bell ListeriaAs of March 31, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) had not received word that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials planned to visit the Sylacauga plant to conduct testing, a spokesman told Food Poisoning Bulletin via email.

The Alabama Department of Public Health inspects the plant, which makes about 15 million gallons of ice cream each year, quarterly. The last inspection was February 19, 2015. However, environmental swabs are not taken during those inspections, nor are products tested for specific pathogens. Instead, samples are tested for coliform and the standard plate count.

During 2014, nine cases of listeriosis were reported in Alabama. Citing the Alabama Administrative Code rule 420-4-1-.04(9),  ADPH said it was unable to disclose whether any of them were associated with Blue Bell ice cream.

On March 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that a Listeria outbreak at Via Christi hospital in Wichita had been linked to ice cream produced at Blue Bell’s Brenham plant. Five people were sickened and three of them died. The company recalled 10 products. On March 24, the CDC announced that Listeria had been found in ice cream produced at second Blue Bell location in Broken Arrow.  The company expanded the recall. On April 3, the CDC issued an update warning consumers not to eat any ice cream produced at the Broken Arrow plant. The company has halted operations there and FDA officials are investigating that plant.



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