Blue Bell to Be Fined $850,000 After Listeria Outbreak

Blue Bell ice cream listeria outbreak
Food Safety Contamination

Texas health officials have stated that Blue Bell Creameries will be paying a fine of $850,000 to rectify damage caused by the listeria outbreak at their plant. [1]

The 2015 outbreak of the virus sickened several people and killed three. The company will have to pay $175,000 within the next thirty days, while the remainder may be paid over the next 18 months. If they fully comply with regulations, they may not have to pay the rest of their bill at all.

The Texas Department of State Health Services demanded that the company notify them of any positive tests for listeria and allow them full access to the entire plant. The Department (also known as the DHS) stated:

“Blue Bell must continue to notify DSHS of any presumptive positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes in ice cream, ingredients, food surfaces, machinery and other equipment in its Brenham plant. The company must maintain its “test and hold” procedures for all finished product, meaning ice cream must be found to be free of pathogens before it can be sold to the public. As a licensed frozen dessert manufacturer, the company also must continue to provide state inspectors with full access to the plant to take samples.” [1]

At least 1400 people were laid off as a result of the listeria outbreak and several of their flagship products were pulled off the market for months, which almost closed the company. Blue Bell did voluntarily recall their items after the deaths of the three people, but officials feel this wasn’t enough. [2]

The Centers for Disease Control list the symptoms of listeria as, “headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.” The disease is even more serious in pregnant women as it can cause stillbirth and miscarriage. It can also cause premature delivery and a life-threatening infection to the newborn baby.

Older people, young children, and those with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to the listeria bacteria. It is caused by consuming food that has the bacteria contained within it.


[1] ABC News

[2] UPI