September 18, 2020 — A Texas federal court has ordered Blue Bell Creameries to pay $17.25 million in criminal fines after pleading guilty to shipping ice cream that it knew was contaminated with Listeria.
The fine was part of a plea agreement in May 2020, in which Blue Bell pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products.
Former CEO Paul Kruse was also charged with 7 felonies for his role in “a scheme to cover up the incident,” the Department of Justice said.
In February 2015, Blue Bell was informed by Texas health officials that two of their ice cream products tested positive for Listeria. In response, Blue Bell told its delivery drivers to pull the two products from stores, but did not issue a recall or try to warn customers. Two week later, a third product tested positive for Listeria.
Blue Bell’s tainted ice cream was linked to at least 10 severe illnesses, including 3 people in Kansas who died.
In April 2015, Blue Bell recalled all of its products from all of its facilities, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and snacks.
The case is USA v. Blue Bell Creameries LP — Case No. 1:20-cr-00123 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
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