We have identified locations where suspected Listeria species may be present in our facility, and we continue to extensively clean and sanitize those areas and make additional enhancements to the facility and our procedures based on the environmental test results. To confirm that our robust environmental program is effective, and that our “seek and destroy” goals are being achieved, we expect to periodically find microbiological indications in our facilities.So while the company indicates that they found locations where Listeria may be positive, they provide assurance that there is no issue. Finding positives for Listeria species in the environment can be expected, provided that those sites are not close to product or process. This is actually the case in many food facilities. Rarely is Listeria completely eliminated, but rather it is a case of ongoing control. The key is continually searching and completing corrective action for any potential positives to prevent reoccurrence, as well as ensuring the product has not been affected. The facility seems to be following through on both. I would be more suspect if they said that they found absolutely none.
It is interesting, however, to see how the media portrays this. In a web search on the topic, we see the headlines Blue Bell finds signs of listeria in plant, Blue Bell: Suspected Listeria found in facility, not in product, and of course the highly cited Food Safety News - Blue Bell says it’s still got Listeria in its facility . While their articles downplay the risk to the product, the headlines create a sense of higher risk.
Blue Bell News Release
An update on our enhanced procedures at our production facilities
Brenham, TX, January 7, 2016 – As we complete our final phase of distribution, we wanted to update our loyal customers on what has been going on in our production facilities. We continue to strictly adhere to our enhanced operations, policies, employee training and cleaning procedures to help give regulatory agencies and the public assurance that all aspects of our facilities and operations are resulting in a safe product.
We continually reinforce to our employees that eliminating all potential sources of contamination is our number one priority so that we can stay committed to producing safe and high quality products for customers to enjoy.
Because Listeria is commonly found in the natural environment, no manufacturer can ever assume it can be entirely eradicated. We have worked closely with our expert team of microbiologists to develop an enhanced, robust testing system specifically designed for each facility to identify any possible presence of Listeria in the production environment, including extensive environmental testing and testing every single batch of ice cream we make before it is sold to customers.
We are pleased that our enhanced environmental and product testing procedures are working. We have identified locations where suspected Listeria species may be present in our facility, and we continue to extensively clean and sanitize those areas and make additional enhancements to the facility and our procedures based on the environmental test results. To confirm that our robust environmental program is effective, and that our “seek and destroy” goals are being achieved, we expect to periodically find microbiological indications in our facilities. Since our plants reopened, we have tested and will continue to test every batch of ice cream produced, and no products produced have tested positive for Listeria.
We will continue to work closely with our regulatory agencies, as we have throughout this process, and our number one priority will continue to be making sure our products are safe for our customers to enjoy.