Texas Health Agency Outlines Requirements for Blue Bell

State health inspectors will regularly be at the Brenham plant to test ice cream and other items. For at least two years after resuming production, Blue Bell must report any presumptive positive test result for Listeria in a product or ingredient to DSHS within 24 hours.

The Texas Department of State Health Services on May 14 finalized the requirements Blue Bell must meet in the wake of its Listeria scare. The company has agreed to the terms it must meet before reopening its plant in Brenham, Texas. And on May 15, the company announced it had to lay off hundreds of workers amid its extended shutdown.

The requirements are as follows: Blue Bell must notify the department at least two weeks before its intent to start producing ice cream for sale so health officials can conduct a full assessment of the company’s progress and test results; the company must conduct trial production runs of ice cream that will be tested separately by DSHS; the products must consistently test negative before they can be distributed to the public; and a trial run with negative test results must occur for each production line before the line can begin making ice cream for sale.

State health inspectors will regularly be at the site to test ice cream and other items, and for at least two years after resuming production, Blue Bell must report any presumptive positive test result for Listeria in a product or ingredient to DSHS within 24 hours.

State health officials also are reviewing deep cleaning procedures, ongoing sanitation processes, and training activities at the Brenham plant. Blue Bell has retained an independent expert to oversee sanitation efforts and, as part of the agreement, will conduct root cause analyses to try to determine the sources of contamination.

Blue Bell Creameries CEO and President Paul Kruse announced May 15 that, because of extended timeline required to ensure the highest quality and safety of Blue Bell’s products when the company resumes production, and because supply and distribution will be limited for some time to come, the company will have to reduce the size of its workforce and take other cost-cutting measures, including furloughs and salary reductions. "The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell's CEO and president," Kruse said. "At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally."

The company's announcement said "cleaning and improving Blue Bell's four production plants is going to take longer than the company initially anticipated, especially at the main plant in Brenham where major repairs and equipment replacements are expected. There is no firm timeline for when Blue Bell will begin producing ice cream again. When production resumes, it will be limited and phased in over time."

The cutbacks will affect three groups: Employees essential to ongoing operations, cleaning, and repair efforts will continue to work but have their pay reduced; another group of employees will be placed on partially paid furlough, being paid "a substantial portion of their current pay, with the expectation that they will return to work as production resumes"; and a third group of employees will be laid off. Approximately 1,400 employees will be furloughed and approximately 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees – 37 percent of the total Blue Bell workforce of 3,900 – will be laid off, Kruse said.

The company has also suspended operations and laid off employees at distribution centers in Phoenix (two branches) and Tucson, Ariz.; Denver; Indianapolis; Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Louisville; Albuquerque; Las Vegas; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; and, Richmond, Va.

Download Center

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Incident Investigations Guide

    If your organization has experienced an incident resulting in a fatality, injury, illness, environmental exposure, property damage, or even a quality issue, it’s important to perform an incident investigation to determine how this happened and learn what you can do to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of performing an incident investigation.

  • Lone Worker Guide

    Lone workers exist in every industry and include individuals such as contractors, self-employed people, and those who work off-site or outside normal hours. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, physical violence, and more. To learn more about lone worker risks and solutions, download this informative guide.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Download the guide to learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • The Basics of Incident Investigations Webinar

    Without a proper incident investigation, it becomes difficult to take preventative measures and implement corrective actions. Watch this on-demand webinar for a step-by-step process of a basic incident investigation, how to document your incident investigation findings and analyze incident data, and more. 

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2022

    October 2022

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SAFETY
      Here's Why Constant Bending Can Be Troublesome
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      How Artificial Intelligence in Revolutionizing Jobs
    • PPE: RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
      Choosing the Right Respiratory Protection
    • WINTER HAZARDS
      Managing Cold Stress with the Proper PPE
    View This Issue