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Problem at Texas Blue Bell plant found prior to Listeria outbreak

At the end of August, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries began producing products again after a Listeria outbreak that allegedly contributed to the deaths of three people while at least ten others reported illness after consuming the company’s products. But according to some employees, unless practices are changed there, another outbreak is just waiting to happen and this one shouldn’t have.

Whether their complaints are fueled by losing their jobs is a factor in their exposure of conditions at the plant is yet to be determined, but 14 former employees with a combined experience of 213 years at the plant say that they complained internally about problems to no avail. They said that the culture at the plant was to keep production moving 24/7 because it couldn’t produce the products fast enough to meet demand. From an economic perspective, that’s 

Among the ex-employees’ contentions are that, because one machine was making product virtually all the time, there was no down time for it to be cleaned. Early this year that machine produced ice cream bars and sandwich cookies that tested positive for Listeria but records from the Food and Drug Administration show that the company did nothing to correct the problem until it learned of illnesses from consumption of their dangerous products. After several months of internal knowledge of the contamination, the company finally shut down the machine when the problems went public. That indicates that the deaths were likely preventable and should be a major contention in the lawsuits that have been filed.

While many defective products can be deadly, it is often easier to see a defect with a product that you use like a tool or a stroller. With food, unless the taste or consistency is off, you may have no clue until the symptoms begin. At that point, without proper medical treatment, it could be too late. Thinking you have a virus when you actually have food poisoning can be dangerous as a toxic substance like Listeria breaks down in your system.

If you suspect that you or a family member has been injured or become ill through the use or consumption of a defective product, contact an attorney with experience in Texas products liability law for advice on whether you have a right to compensation. 

Source: Eater.com, “Former Blue Bell Employees Say Texas Factory Was Unsafe and Unsanitary,” Khushbu Shah, Sept. 14, 2015

Secondary Source: Houston Chronicle, “Inside Blue Bell: Grime and discontent,” Mark Collette, Sept. 11, 2015

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