Blue Bell officials respond to claims of hazardous conditions inside plant

Former employees speak to CBS News about conditions prior to recall

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

BRENHAM, Texas - Some former employees from the Blue Bell plant in Brenham spoke to CBS News, claiming conditions inside the plant were hazardous to the public's health years before the recall.

But ever since the rollout in August, or maybe before that, many Texans have quickly forgiven the state's famous ice cream.

"I was actually eating a box of chocolate ice cream the day that the thing came out and I checked to see if mine was part of it, and it wasn't and two days later they did the recall on everything, and nothing happened to me," one woman said.

Nearly everyone can claim they didn't get sick. The numbers are relatively small, but the damage was significant. Ten people were sick from listeria linked to the ice cream and three people died.

Records uncovered by Channel 2 Investigates show Blue Bell knew about listeria contamination in its plants and continued to sell its products.

That matches allegations by the former employees who spoke to CBS News.

In a statement, Blue Bell officials said, "While we do not usually comment on matters involving current or former company employees, the isolated views expressed by two former Blue Bell employees on CBS News do not reflect the experience of the vast majority of our employees, who know we take the cleanliness of our facilities and the quality of our products very seriously. Over the years, we have welcomed an average of 200,000 visitors a year to tour our Brenham plant and see our operation for themselves. Our employees, many of whom have worked with us for 20 or 30 years or more, are hardworking, dedicated individuals, who are committed to producing the best ice cream possible. Our top priority and commitment is to produce high quality, safe, delicious ice cream for our customers."

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