- Blue Bell has run into an issue with its most recent listeria-related recall of select ice cream brands — the ice cream maker said the contamination stemmed from cookie dough it received from its supplier, Aspen Hills. But according to a Tech Times article, the supplier says the ingredient left its plant clear of listeria, because they tested it prior to delivery to Blue Bell.
- The supplier said Blue Bell was the only recipient and that its company never previously had to initiate a recall of any kind.
- After further testing, both companies could still be at fault in the contamination, Craig Hedberg, an environmental health sciences professor from the University of Minnesota, told Tech Times. Initial contamination could have happened at an Aspen Hills facility but been too low a level for the company's tests to detect it. But after several weeks of sitting in a Blue Bell cooler, it could have grown to a level that Blue Bell's regular stringent tests would find.
This could be seen as an unexpected development, but given Blue Bell's recent history, maybe it isn't. The company initiated a massive full product recall and shut down all three of its plants last year due to a similar listeria-related recall.
Blue Bell had to agree to several provisions in the three states its plants are located in to reopen, but those provisions, particularly testing protocols, are not equivalent across all three plants. And the location where Blue Bell detected the contamination was in Alabama, which is the most lenient about safety testing.
That makes Aspen Hills' argument resonate with those who remember last year's listeria contamination, and it could detract from Blue Bell's argument that the ingredient was already contaminated when it was received.
A key issue here for Blue Bell is trust. The company was able to rely on a loyal consumer base after the first recall. But with another similar recall about a year or so later, it could be a bad omen for the future of Blue Bell's relationship and level of trust with consumers.