Blue Bell Creamery can’t seem to catch a break, as another private lab discloses a case of listeria, challenging what the company said about the threat of future contamination. While company representatives had said that there was no more contamination and that there wasn’t going to be any further contamination – it appears as if that promise has already fallen through. The independent lab said that there was still listeria contamination in some of the products that the company was putting on shelves.
Kappa Laboratories in Miami conducted the test and found that listeria was still present. Interestingly, the lab simply didn’t stumble upon the ice cream. Instead, a Florida woman who had fallen ill from the ice cream, had the ice cream tested, and sure enough – it tested positive for listeria.
The company said in a statement that, “We have just had this situation brought to our attention, and we of course take all such matters very seriously.” Blue Bell went on to point out in the statement that, “We are reviewing the third-party lab report we have received, but because this overall situation involves litigation, we are not able to discuss any details of the matter.”
Health officials, as well as Blue Bell have been unable to connect the illness to the national outbreak that took place recently, but the connection and positive test certainly doesn’t do anything for the company’s reputation on the matter at this point. Christine Pearson a spokesperson for the CDC pointed out that, “Our understanding is that, based on the type of testing done, it will not be possible to compare it to the … strains in the Blue Bell outbreak to say whether or not this is related.” She went on to point out that, “We remain in contact with state health departments to assist.”
That being said though, the CDC does advise that no one eat any Blue Bell products. That alone speaks volumes to how much of a situation this really is. This isn’t something that Blue Bell can simply pass off as a random act. Instead, it would appear as though this is going to be a serious matter that challenges the company moving forward – and could actually end up being crippling in the long-term.
However, four years ago major changes were brought in to the FDA by President Obama’s administration. At this point, it would appear as though those changes have either gone away or been forgotten about. Mike Taylor, the deputy commissioner of the FDA pointed out that, “There is no one-size-fits-all system of preventive controls.” He continued, “But also we don’t want to stymie innovation.
The problem though seems to be walking a line between safe, and innovative. As companies are continuing to push innovation and reach more customers – it remains a difficult line to walk. Taylor reinforced this sentiment by pointing out that, “We are trying to walk the line to keep the flexibility that folks need to put in place the right efficient, effective preventive control … but also create accountability for firms to do this the right way.”