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BRENHAM(CBSDFW.COM) – Blue Bell Creameries and the Alabama Department of Public Health have entered into a voluntary agreement outlining a series of steps and actions Blue Bell will take as part of its efforts to bring Blue Bell Ice Cream products back to market. The Alabama agreement is similar to agreements reached between the company and Texas and Oklahoma state regulatory agencies as announced on May 14, 2015.
The actions include rigorous facility cleaning and sanitizing, revised testing protocols, revised production policies and procedures designed to prevent future contamination, and upgraded employee training initiatives.
Once the company is ready to resume production, the voluntary agreement also calls for a trial production period before ice cream is distributed to consumers.
“We hope that the agreement between Blue Bell and the Alabama Department of Public Health will reassure our customers that we are taking the necessary steps to bring Blue Bell Ice Cream back to the market,” said Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse. “We are committed to making these changes so that we meet the high standards and expectations of our customers and our regulatory agencies. Blue Bell will also continue to work cooperatively and transparently with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
The agreement signed Monday includes provisions specific to addressing Listeria, including:
· Conducting root cause analyses to identify its potential or actual sources;
· Retaining an independent microbiology expert to help establish and review controls to prevent the future introduction of Listeria;
· Notifying the Alabama Department of Public Health promptly of any presumptive positive test result for Listeria monocytogenes found in ingredients or finished product samples, and providing the state agencies full access to all testing;
Ensuring that the company’s Pathogen Monitoring Program (PMP) for Listeria in the plant environment outlines how the company will respond to presumptive positive tests for Listeria species; and instituting a “test and hold” program to assure that products are safe before they are shipped or sold.
“The details of this agreement are very similar to those we’ve made in Texas and Oklahoma,” Kruse said. “This will guide us back to producing the safe high-quality products that Blue Bell is known for. We greatly appreciate the tremendous public support we have received, and we look forward to working with our regulatory agencies and returning to making ice cream as soon as possible.”
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