- Blue Bell Creameries' early response to the issues with listeria contamination that led to the company's full product recall in March is being questioned by food safety experts.
- In mid-February, before any diseases were reported and about a month before the recall, Blue Bell employees began what's known as a withdrawal of products from retailers and institutional customers such as hospitals. Since a withdrawal is normally used for smaller issues, the company is not required to inform the public when the withdrawal is taking place.
- Some experts are left wondering why consumers weren't alerted sooner to an issue that allegedly led to 10 hospitalizations in four states and three deaths in Kansas.
The chief concern for some food safety experts is that if Blue Bell knew it was dealing with an issue as major as listeria, the company should have notified the public earlier rather than performing a quiet withdrawal.
"I think they could have stepped up to the plate a whole lot quicker and done a whole lot more to protect the consuming public," said Cliff Coles, president of California Microbiological Consulting Inc, The Dallas Morning News reported. "They pussyfooted around what they should have done in the first place."
Blue Bell has already submitted to state testing for Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama and is carrying out corrective actions to deal with the contamination of its creameries as well as other issues uncovered by FDA over the past few months. However, there is still no word yet as to when the creameries might reopen, after being shut down in April, or if Blue Bell's laid-off employees will be able to return to work in the future.
As Blue Bell works through its problems step by step, and food safety experts discover and question the initial withdrawal of products is not going to help Blue Bell's case or image.