Blue Bell Creameries has recalled all its products over the ongoing listeria scare. It may take the Texas-based ice cream maker some time before it can bring its products back to the shelves once again, and experts are convinced that lawsuits are looming over the company.
In mid-March, Blue Bell announced its first product recall in its 100-year-plus history. The president and CEO of the company, Paul Kruse, said the voluntary recall was a measure to ensure customer safety. However, three people have already died after consuming contaminated Blue Bell ice cream, and some consider the move to be too little, too late.
Blue Bell shut down its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma facility, where the first listeria contamination was confirmed, and now a Texas plant has also been found to be contaminated. An investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that listeria contamination of Blue Bell ice cream could reach all the way back to 2010. The earlier cases were sufficiently spread out as to not draw earlier attention.
Ron Simon & Associates, a law firm that specializes in food poisoning cases, is representing a couple of teenagers who got sick and were hospitalized after consuming Blue Bell ice cream. The firm states that it has received hundreds of calls about the contaminated Blue Bell products since the recall was announced in mid-March.
Blue Bell has stated that it will carry out a deep investigation at its facilities before starting production once again. It may take another two to three weeks before Blue Bell reintroduces its products to stores — but a precise date has not yet been provided.
"We're committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe," Kruse said in a press release.
The company has implemented a "test and hold" procedure for all its manufacturing facilities. This means that prior to release, products from Blue Bell's facilities must be tested with the results coming back clean. Blue Bell is also working with several agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to get to the root of the latest listeria contamination.
After losing a fortune to halted production and product refunds, Blue Bell will likely have to deal with lawsuits as well.
"The company hasn't even had a chance yet to turn its attention to the possibility of litigation," said Gene Grabowski, a "crisis manager" assisting Blue Bell through the catastrophe. The company is more likely to minimize the possibility of lawsuits if it continues to be transparent in the recall process transparently and prioritizes the restoration of confidence for its loyal customers.
As of writing, no lawsuits have yet been filed against the ice cream maker.
Photo: Josh Grenier | Flickr