Blue Bell may be ready for fewer food safety restrictions, but is now a good time?
- Blue Bell has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if the company can return to food safety and pathogen testing practices more aligned with the "industry norm," the Houston Chornicle and Food Safety News reported.
- The Chronicle obtained records via a Freedom of Information Act request that showed the company was unnecessarily destroying products at risk of listeria contamination, even when the products didn't show any contamination in safety tests.
- Blue Bell has asked the FDA to allow the company to reinstate its system of destroying products only when it confirms pathogen contamination through safety testing.
Blue Bell has long resolved the issues related to its 2015 full product recall and production shutdown, having since passed state regulators' health inspections and returned to production. Because of this, the company's request seems reasonable and practical, particularly if the vast majority — if not all — of the more recent safety tests have passed without complications.
However, Blue Bell is also currently embroiled in another recall that involves it and several other companies that have come forward since Blue Bell's initial announcement of listeria contamination in September. These brands were all customers of cookie dough supplier Aspen Hills, which initiated a recall of its ingredients and its customers' products that used those ingredients in October.
Blue Bell made public claims that the ingredient was contaminated prior to its arrival at any Blue Bell facility, pointing to Aspen Hills as the source of this particular contamination, and other companies' recall announcements later followed.
Still, even if Blue Bell's production plants weren't the source of the contamination, it may not be the best idea for Blue Bell to cease its current food safety protocols until regulators declare this particular recall officially over. That's especially true due to the typically long shelf life of frozen foods like ice cream, which could lead to consumer backlash against any of these companies for months to come if illnesses occur down the line.
- Food Safety News Blue Bell asks FDA if it can return testing to ‘industry norm’
- Houston Business Journal Blue Bell wants to modify testing procedure