Blue Bell Creameries was officially sentenced today to pay $17.25 million in criminal penalties for the 2015 deadly listeria outbreak.  Blue Bell plead guilty in May to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products.  Today, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin sentenced the company to pay the fine agreed to in the plea agreement.  The $17.25 million fine and forfeiture amount is the largest-ever criminal penalty following a conviction in a food safety case, according to the Justice Department.

Blue Bell’s former CEO Paul Kruse was separately charged in May with criminal conspiracy. Those charges were dismissed by Pitman in July.  The charges against Kruse were dismissed because he did not waive his right to be indicted by a grand jury, which prosecutors did not seek due to COVID-19.  Paul Kruse, who retired in 2017, was facing felony charges alleging that he directed a conspiracy to conceal unsanitary conditions and the deadly listeria outbreak.

Blue Bell shut down all ice-cream production in 2015, and redesigned their plants to prevent future listeria contamination of their products.  All products are now tested prior to shipment for listeria.


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  1. Any mention of the hundreds of employees who’s lives were upended because of what Blue Bell did? Just curious. I was one of them.

    1. While it is obvious that the former management of Blue Bell made mistakes and employees of the company suffered, I also remember a company that continued to pay it’s employees long after production/revenue stopped. A company that was loyal and stood by it’s employees by using their cash reserves as long as possible to make sure their employees had a paycheck coming in. Upper level managers many of whom were not part of the mistakes that were made took pay cuts or no salary at all for a period of time so that money could go to the larger employee base. They worked hard to ensure the company could survive and return to full production as soon as they possibly could. I would only hope that the company I work for would be as honorable and stand by it’s employees as well as Blue Bell did.

  2. Just curious, a $17.25 million dollar fine is huge, who gets the money? Where does it go? When I see government stepping in and taking this much money from private business it makes me wander if they are going to be using the larger courts like they do municipal court and JP court who function almost exclusively as a revenue source without any real regard for traffic safety or the citizens who are forced into a court system that has nothing to do with justice or safety.

    1. Maybe some of it goes to any victims of the crime. Massive medical bills, permanent care, funeral expenses, dependents who are without a breadwinner. We have a crime victims fund in a Texas.

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