The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an official investigation of Blue Bell, the Texas ice cream company whose listeria outbreak over the spring killed three people. Blue Bell subsequently recalled its entire product line.
In the weeks following the listeria scandal, a report released by the USDA indicated that Blue Bell most likely became aware of the presence of listeria in one of its plants as early as 2013, but failed to act. At the time, prominent food safety attorney Bill Marler called the discovery “as bad as it gets.”
The Justice Department is now in the process of determining when and what exactly Blue Bell’s management knew about the health risks of their plants, all three of which tested positive for listeria.
Blue Bell is expected to be available across 15 states over the next month. It is unclear what impact the federal investigation will have on the company’s return to market.