Blue Bell Hit with $17.25 Million in Penalties
I think it's safe to say that the year 2020 will go down in history for a lot of us as a "very dark time". We have a pandemic, we've got an overactive tropical weather pattern, we've got mud-slinging elections and we've still got three months to go.
But you have to admit, back in 2015 times were pretty dark too. They were dark for another reason, that was the "year without Blue Bell". You might recall when Blue Bell Ice Cream was pulled from store shelves over concerns of listeria contamination.
Thankfully, Blue Bell resolved that issue and we weren't without our beloved ice cream products for too long. However, the final shoe had not dropped for Blue Bell Creameries in regard to that 2015 issue. Yesterday, a Texas court ruled the company must pay $17.25 million in criminal penalties related to the 2015 outbreak of listeriosis.
The company had entered a guilty plea to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products. The sentence that was imposed by a U.S. District Court in Austin was reported to be consistent with the terms of that plea agreement.
If that $17.25 million fine and forfeiture amount seem large, that's because it is the largest ever criminal penalty ever imposed following a conviction in a food safety case. The bigger issue in the case appears to revolve around the actions the company did not take to adequately inform consumers of the issue at hand.
Since the 2015 incident Blue Bell has taken enhanced actions to improve its sanitation processes and improve testing programs to ensure that the products they are offering to the public are safe.