An investigative report aired this week by KXAS-TV (NBC 5) in Dallas/Fort Worth reveals that state health inspectors found dozens of violations from 2011-2015 at the sprawling Blue Bell Creameries plant in Brenham, TX. The violations were noted on inspection reports from Jan. 1, 2011, to April 15, 2015, which the station acquired through the Texas open records law. Inspectors cited mildew at the plant, dirty mop buckets, no towels at sinks, and crickets in a storage room, the station reported. No warning letters were sent and no fines were ever levied on the company during that time, according to the report.

Blue Bell Creameries plant in Texas
The Blue Bell Creameries plant in Brenham, TX.
Blue Bell responded with a statement that any such health violations have always been promptly corrected. “Blue Bell has a long history of regular state health inspections. Whenever inspections raised any issues at all, we have always taken prompt action to address and correct them. Blue Bell takes cleanliness in our production facilities very seriously and our top priority is always the quality and safety of our product for our customers,” the company stated. The Dallas/Fort Worth TV station also reported that Blue Bell representatives have told ice cream outlets in the area that they may be able to get new product later this month, potentially by Memorial Day weekend. The company is still reportedly producing ice cream at its plant in Sylacauga, AL, but a Blue Bell spokeswoman said that it was for research and testing purposes only. The Brenham plant was temporarily closed this week for an extensive cleaning and employee retraining program after Listeria was found in ice cream produced there and at another Blue Bell facility in Broken Arrow, OK. Production was temporarily suspended at the company’s Oklahoma facility after Listeria was found in unopened samples of 3-oz. chocolate ice cream cups distributed to food service/institutional customers. As of April 21, the Listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell products has sickened 10 people in four states (Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas), and three people in Kansas died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All 10 of those sickened were hospitalized. CDC stated that patients with illness onset dates ranging from 2010-2014 were identified through a retrospective review of the PulseNet database for DNA fingerprints that were similar to isolates collected from Blue Bell ice cream samples. Blue Bell announced April 20 that it was recalling all of its products currently on the market made at all four of its facilities, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria.