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FDA Designs Safety Plan to Prevent Another Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak

In the wake of a deadly listeria food poisoning outbreak linked to contaminated ice cream products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has formulated a safety plan to minimize the impact of any future outbreaks.

Free Ice Cream Recall Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one developed symptoms of food poisoning after eating ice cream, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the ice cream and our lawyers can help.

What’s the Problem?

In the past, there has never been any federal requirement that food producers have a written safety plan in place in case of food poisoning emergencies. Blue Bell Creameries, a Texas-based ice cream maker, shut down its plants and furloughed or fired most of its workers after the deadly listeria outbreak earlier this year.

Now, 2 years after it was first proposed, a rule which “would require that companies like Blue Bell have a written food safety plan, based on an analysis of likely hazards” is on the brink of being made final, according to an FDA blog post issued May 20.

Contaminated Blue Bell ice cream products have sickened at least 10 people, 3 of whom died at the same Kansas hospital. The company has halted production at plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama. Health officials have traced listeria contamination at Blue Bell facilities back as far as 2010.

Food Safety Modernization Act

FDA’s proposal to require food safety plans is part of the agency’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that went into effect in 2010. FDA and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) require seafood, juice, meat and poultry processors to have management plans in place to handle potential hazards, though many food companies that sell other products have made plans independently, FDA said when it proposed the rule. The FSMA is an attempt to require plans across a wider cross-section of the food industry.

Funding the System

FDA is supposed to make the rule final by August 30, according to an agency spokesperson. President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal requested nearly $110 million to help the FDA implement the new food safety legislation.

“If we receive that funding, we can move forward to implement this new, modern system in an effective and timely way,” said Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “If we do not get the funding, we will lose momentum, and implementation will be badly disrupted.”

Blue Bell Safety Violations

During inspections of Blue Bell’s facilities after the listeria outbreak, FDA uncovered at least 26 violations including lax sanitary practices. The company’s own testing of non-food contact areas at its Broken Arrow, OK plant also turned up signs of listeria as far back as 2013.

Blue Bell has agreed to inform state officials if it finds presumptive positive test results for listeria in the future, according to the FDA. The company must also come up with a plan for how it will respond to positive tests and implement a “test and hold” program to ensure products are safe before being distributed.

Do I Have an Ice Cream Recall Lawsuit?

The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in ice cream lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new listeria food poisoning cases in all 50 states.

Free Ice Cream Recall Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one developed food poisoning after eating ice cream, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Food Poisoning Suit and our lawyers can help.

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