Blue Bell Agrees to Follow Recognized Industry Standards

The standards to be followed are Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs); Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs); a Pathogen Monitoring Program (PMP) for Lm that includes environmental, ingredient, and finished product testing; and a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan and/or a written Food Safety Plan.

The state of Texas finalized an agreement with Brenham, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries on July 29 that calls for the company to pay an $850,000 administrative penalty and agree to follow recognized industry standards henceforth in its food production and distribution. It says the company will continue to test and monitor its ice cream, following last year's outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Blue Bell products made in Brenham.

The agreement requires Blue Bell to notify the Texas Department of State Health Services within 24 hours of receiving a laboratory report of any presumptive positive test result for Listeria monocytogenes found in a finished product produced by the Brenham facility; within 24 hours of receiving a laboratory report of any presumptive positive test result for Lm found in an ingredient produced by the Brenham facility or intended for use in a product produced by the company at its Brenham facility; within 24 hours of receiving a lab report of any presumptive positive test result for Lm found on food contact surfaces; and, on a weekly basis, notify DSHS of any presumptive positive test results for Listeria species found through its routine environmental monitoring program in any "high care" area of the Brenham plant (other than food contact surfaces) during the preceding week.

Blue Bell also, per the agreement, must provide DSHS full access to the Brenham facilities for purposes of collecting ingredient, finished product, or environmental samples.

The standards to be followed are Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs); Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs); a Pathogen Monitoring Program (PMP) for Lm that includes environmental, ingredient, and finished product testing; and a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan and/or a written Food Safety Plan.

Blue Bell must pay $175,000 of the penalty within 30 days and the rest will not have to be paid if the company follows the terms outlined in the agreement for 18 months. DSHS said the financial penalty was issued because Blue Bell allowed adulterated product to enter the marketplace and cause illness.

The company is producing, testing, and selling ice cream made at the plant.

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