FDA releases documents on Blue Bell Creameries: 5 takeaways

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released documents on Blue Bell Creameries, the Texas-based ice cream maker that is linked to the current outbreak of listeriosis in the U.S.

Here are five takeaways from the FDA's documents:

1. The FDA found that Blue Bell, which recalled all of its products in April, knew that listeria was present in its Broken Arrow, Okla., plant as early as 2013, but failed to improve its sanitation programs, according to The New York Times.

2. According to the Houston Chronicle, the documents also detail sanitation failures at the company's other plants in Brenham, Texas, and in Alabama.

3. Federal health inspectors said they found evidence of the dangerous foodborne pathogen on the floors as well as other nonfood surfaces in the kitchen and processing room of the Broken Arrow plant in 2013, according to The New York Times. However, as of a couple months ago, Blue Bell had still not shown that it improved cleaning and sanitizing practices to prevent contaminations in the future, the publication noted.

4. Agency documents also show that the Broken Arrow plant "is not constructed in such a manner as to prevent drip and condensate from contaminating food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials."

5. In a statement provided to The New York Times, Blue Bell acknowledged in a that testing from 2013 showed that listeria was present in its Broken Arrow plant and that cleaning processes were not adequate. "As is standard procedure for any such positive results, the company would immediately clean the surfaces and swab until the tests were negative," the statement reads. "We thought our cleaning process took care of any problems, but in hindsight, it was not adequate, which is why we are currently conducting such a comprehensive re-evaluation of all our operations."

As of April 21, a total of 10 people in four states have fallen ill with listeriosis linked to Blue Bell Creameries.

The outbreak started in March when five patients at a hospital in Kansas fell ill with listeriosis. Three of those patients later died. Other people who have fallen ill with listeriosis are in Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas.



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