Department of Justice investigating Blue Bell for listeria outbreak

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The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation to determine when Blue Bell officials learned of a potentially hazardous bacterial outbreak at the company’s plants.

Sources have told CBS News that the Department of Justice is trying to determine what Blue Bell management knew about potentially deadly hazards in their plants, and when they knew it.

A Food and Drug Administration investigation found Listeria in all of Blue Bell’s production plants in Texas,  Alabama and Oklahoma.

Records indicated that the company knew one plant was contaminated at least as early as 2013.

Blue Bell officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The FDA said its investigation found problems that included condensation dripping directly into ice cream and unsanitary equipment.

Last April, Blue Bell shut down all of its production facilities and recalled its ice cream.

Several former employees said after the plant closures that they reported unsanitary conditions to supervisors, but little was done, according to CBS.
Blue Bell has restarted limited production at all of its plants and is slowly expanding availability of its ice cream.

It announced Tuesday that it would the fifth phase of its market re-entry plan on January 18.

Ice cream will be available in stores in middle and eastern Tennessee, the northern sections of Alabama and Georgia and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.