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Criminal Charges Possible in Blue Bell Listeria Outbreak

Criminal Charges Possible in Blue Bell Listeria Outbreak

May 8, 2015 — Will executives at Blue Bell Creameries face criminal charges for failing to adequately address Listeria contamination in their ice cream?

If employees at the company knew about Listeria contamination but continued to sell tainted ice cream, they could face criminal charges, jail time, massive fines, and lawsuits from people who got sick.

There were 13 positive Listeria tests at one Blue Bell plant in Oklahoma since 2013, according to government documents released yesterday. Inspection reports also described unsanitary conditions at plants in Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama as recently as last month.

Listeria is difficult to eradicate from a food processing facility. According to the FDA, Blue Bell continued shipping ice cream to hospitals and grocery stores after what it called “inadequate cleaning.”

The first illnesses were reported in hospitalized patients who ate milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream. Listeria infections are most serious for people who have weakened immune systems, children, older adults, and pregnant women.

At least three people have died and 10 infections have been reported since 2010. Because the outbreak has been ongoing for five years, it is possible that additional illnesses occurred that were never linked to the products.

In the past, criminal charges have been successfully filed after deadly food poisoning outbreaks, including:

  • Cantaloupe: After 33 people died after eating Listeria-tainted cantaloupe, two farmers in Colorado were sentenced to five years of probation, six months of home detention, fines of $150,000 each, and 100 hours of community service.
  • Peanuts: After 700 people were sickened and nine people died from Salmonella-tainted peanuts, executives at Peanut Corporation of America were convicted of 70 felony counts.
  • Eggs: After Salmonella-tainted eggs sickened 2,000 people and 500 million eggs were recalled, the owners of Quality Egg were ordered to pay $7 million in fines, sentenced to three months in jail, and one year of probation.

Do I have a Blue Bell Ice Cream Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Blue Bell ice cream induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with Listeria, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Food Poisoning Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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