According to a company statement, Blue Bell Ice Cream has stated that it has found listeria on its production plants. Due to listeria found on an ice cream container, the company had recalled its entire product line last spring.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,600 cases of listeriosis are reported in the United States every year, with 260 resulting in death.
A U.S. official confirmed to CNN that Blue Bell is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for the ice cream contamination that has been linked to10 reported cases of listeriosis. Out of the ten cases, three have died.
The company has however added that listeria has not been found in any Blue Bell products as the company has been reintroducing some of its products into the market.
Blue Bell has stated that it will fully cooperate with regulatory agencies and procedures for improved environmental and product testing are underway.
Blue Bell decided to recall all its products in April last year after tests showed that listeria was present in some half-gallon containers of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
The company statements says, 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.
Prosecutors are looking into any lax behavior from the company executives side in their handling of the outbreak.
Listeriosis is a potentially fatal infection caused by listeria bacteria. It is found in water, raw milk, soil and poultry. It is dangerous because it can also grow in cold temperatures and refrigerators.
Those at maximum risk are pregnant women, newborns, older people and people who have weak immune systems. Blue Bell recently announced plans to continue its market re-entry by filling stores with Blue Bell ice cream products in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, among others, beginning January 18.