In April, Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to pay a $25 million fine – the largest ever fine for food safety – to solve criminal charges that accuse the company of serving contaminated food from 2015 to 2018 that sickened more than 1,100 people. The agreement allowed the company to avoid conviction if it complies with an improved food safety program. Blue Bell said in a statement that the plea agreement includes events five years ago before it closed and remodeled its facilities. Today, it is determined to “provide the safest and tastiest ice cream.” For more information on the enforcement efforts of the consumer protection department and the fraud division of the commercial litigation department, see their websites at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch and www.justice.gov/civil/fraud-section. You can find the latest information on the events in this case on the www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch/cases/blue-bell-creameries page. The company added: “Five years ago, we were deeply affected by the events that led to our voluntary recall of all our ice from the market. We have faced a situation that our company has never faced before, and our agreement with the government shows that we should have handled many things differently and better. We apologize to everyone involved, including our customers, employees and the communities in which we live and work. Unless the appeal agreement admits it, the claims under the False Claims Act, which are challenged in relation to the company, are merely allegations and no decision of liability has been made. The $17.25 million fine and forfeiture are the largest sentence ever imposed on a conviction in a food safety case. Based in Brenham, Texas, Blue Bell had initially agreed to pay US$19.35 million and plead guilty to shipping the contaminated product, as announced by the Department of Justice in April 2020. At the time of the May oral argument, Blue Bell issued a statement saying the company was “a new, different and better company.” Texas ice cream maker Blue Bell Creameries L.P.
has agreed to plead guilty to shipping contaminated products linked to a listeriosis outbreak in 2015, and the company`s former president has been charged as part of a plan to cover up the incident, as announced by the Justice Department today. The plea agreement and criminal information filed today against Blue Bell in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas alleges that the company distributes ice products manufactured in unsanitary conditions and contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, in violation of the Food Act, drugs and cosmetic drugs. In February 2015, Texas officials told Blue Bell that two ice cream products from the Brenham, Texas plant had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, a dangerous pathogen that can cause serious illness or death in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Blue Bell has asked its delivery trackers to remove the remaining inventory of both products from the shelves, but the company has not recalled the products or issued an official notice to inform customers of possible listeria contamination.