Listeria found in Blue Bell ice cream plant as early as 2013

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Blue Bell Listeria Contamination Dates Back to 2013


HOUSTON (WHNT) - Listeria bacteria was found in Blue Bell's Oklahoma plant as early as March 2013, according to results released on Thursday by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

According to the report, there were 16 positive tests of listeria at the Oklahoma plant between March 2013 and January 2015. Despite the positive tests, the company continued to package and sell ice cream.

The report describes tests that suggested a "presumptive positive" for listeria on surfaces like floors and pallets used to store and carry food items.

In Alabama, investigators observed at least two employees wearing soiled clothing while handling food. In Texas, the report says investigators observed condensation dripping into food containers.

14 PHOTOS
Blue Bell, Jeni's Splendid Listeria
See Gallery
Listeria found in Blue Bell ice cream plant as early as 2013
OVERLAND PARK, KS - APRIL 21: A Blue Bell Ice Cream truck is seen outside a Wal-Mart store after Blue Bell Creameries recalls all products following a Listeria contamination on April 21, 2015 in Overland Park, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
OVERLAND PARK, KS - APRIL 21: Shelves are bare and signs are posted where Blue Bell products were displayed in a grocery store on April 21, 2015 in Overland Park, Kansas. Blue Bell Creameries recalled all products following a Listeria contamination. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
A sign in the window at a Jeni's Spendid Ice Creams shop tells customers the store is closed Friday, April 24, 2015, in Atlanta. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams has issued a widespread voluntary recall on all flavors of its Ohio-made ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches and closed all of its retail scoop shops because of possible contamination with potentially fatal Listeria monocytogenes.(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
We have initiated a voluntary recall of all our ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches. https://t.co/JUOXA4JT0e
A sign on a window of the door on the left at a Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams states that the store is closed Friday, April 24, 2015, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Major recalls from two well-known ice cream companies due to the discovery of listeria bacteria raise questions about how the pathogen could have contaminated multiple ice cream manufacturing plants and whether the discoveries are related. Blue Bell Creameries of Texas and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams of Ohio, extremely popular brands in their home states took all their products off shelves this week. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
FILE - In this April 24, 2015 file photo, a sign on a window at a Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams states that the store is closed, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. CEO John Lowe said in a Tuesday, April 28, 2015 statement that Jeni's is destroying more than 265 tons of ice cream after listeria was found in the production facility and in products last week. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Blue Bell ice cream stands for sale on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, April 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Blue Bell delivery trucks are parked at the creamery's location in Kansas City, Kan., Friday, April 10, 2015. Days after a foodborne illness was linked to Blue Bell ice cream products, a state inspection of an Oklahoma plant later tied to the infection praised the facility for having no violations and doing a "great job," according to a copy of the inspection report. Tainted Blue Bell ice cream products have sickened eight people — five in Kansas and three in Texas. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Five people in Kansas have become ill, three have died, as part of a potential listeriosis outbreak, possibly connected to eating Blue Bell Creameries ice cream at a hospital, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
This photo shows a container of Blue Bell ice cream Friday, March 13, 2015, in Dallas. The deaths of three people who developed a foodborne illness linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products has prompted the Texas icon’s first product recall in its 108-year history. (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin)
This photo shows a container of Blue Bell ice cream Friday, March 13, 2015, in Dallas. The deaths of three people who developed a foodborne illness linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products has prompted the Texas icon’s first product recall in its 108-year history. (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin)
This photo shows a container of Blue Bell ice cream Friday, March 13, 2015, in Dallas. The deaths of three people who developed a foodborne illness linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products has prompted the Texas icon’s first product recall in its 108-year history. (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin)
Graphic shows the number of cases of listeria by state.; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The FDA report was released on Thursday following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Houston Chronicle.

Listeria bacteria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and others with weak immune systems.

Three people in Kansas have died from listeria-tainted Blue Bell products. A total of 10 patients infected with listeria were reported in four states: Arizona (1), Kansas (5), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (3). All ten patients were hospitalized.

The company has collected 8 million gallons of ice cream from retailers and other outlets during the product recall.

The company said they are "committed to a thorough process that will ensure the highest quality and safety of our products for our customers going forward."

All three plants remain closed as the company continues to clean and sanitize the facilities.

"Unfortunately, we do not yet have a firm timeline for when Blue Bell Ice Cream will be back in stores, but we believe at this time that it will be several months at a minimum," Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse said in a statement.

After weeks of gradual recalls, the company recalled all its ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and other frozen treats sold in 23 states dating back to 2010.

The origin of the strain is still unknown, but "the fact that it was the same strain over the last five years suggests it could have lurked somewhere in the factory the whole time," Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases told CNN.

More on AOL:
Powerful poem is a PSA for homeless girls
92-year-old female pilot returns to the skies
Teenage girl fights back against school's dress code

Read Full Story

Sign up for Best Bites by AOL and receive delicious recipes delivered to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.