The US Justice Department said it has launched an investigation into Blue Bell over listeria contamination of its ice cream. The contamination was linked to three deaths and several illnesses.
A person familiar with the matter told that government lawyers are probing into what information did the Blue Bell executives had about the listeria contamination in their plants and products.
The Brenham, Texas based company, which is one of the biggest US ice cream brands, issued recall of its products due to listeria contamination, which affected ice cream at all three of its main plants.
The company again started shipping its ice cream in August, and showed that it has a regulatory approval to sell its products. Blue Bell previously has said it had a practice of cleaning surfaces in its factories that tested positive for listeria, but that in hindsight its processes weren’t adequate.
The company said in the beginning of this year it started a comprehensive review of its operations in which it used some advance equipments and procedure to ensure that its products are safe.
James Neale, a Virginia attorney who represents companies in foodborne-illness cases, said, “It’s no longer unusual for the Justice Department to take an interest in an outbreak of this magnitude”.
According to food-safety lawyers t has become common for the Us Justice Department to look into food companies that have shipped contaminated products which caused illnesses or deaths.