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Texas DSHS first wants Blue Bell to recall ice cream linked to infection

AUSTIN — When the Texas Department of Health Services (DSHS) first learned of South Carolina’s discovery of Listeria in two Blue Bell ice cream products, it advised the company to prepare a recall notice.

But in testimony on the fourth day of a jury trial against former Blue Bell President Paul Kruse, the DSHS official in charge of dairy products in half of Texas said the department agreed with Blue Bell Longer investigation, and soon the US Department of Food joined the investigation. and the Drug Administration (FDA).

Justice Department attorneys charged with conspiracy and five counts of fraud are trying to use Cruise’s hesitation to issue a press release about the Listeria contamination to justify their case.

In 2015, Harris Hollingwood, DSHS’ dairy manager in West Texas, suffered a deadly listeriosis outbreak over the East, killing 3 , at least 10 people were sick. “Texas asks for a voluntary recall of Bluebell,” said Hollingwood from South Carolina when first contacted after the Feb. 13 notification.

“We feel there is a product that could still be on the market. on sale,” he said.

Blue Bell’s press release on the outbreak wasn’t released until March 13, March 23, and finally April 20, after Hollingwood admitted that DSHS had been singled out for the investigation.

The March 13 recall notice concerns two ice cream products found in South Carolina. The March 23 recall notice was updated on March 26 for 3 oz cups chocolate, strawberries and vanilla ice cream, produced at its Broken Arrow production facility in Oklahoma. Blue Bell recalled all of its products on April 20; at the same time, it closed all production facilities.

Hollingwood said DSHS had not issued any health warnings or statements prior to taking action.

During the period between Feb. 13 and March 13, Blue Bell appears to have sold Kruse’s plan to regulators by having the company’s roughly 1,500 driver salesmen pick up the goods , to withdraw single-serving ice cream products from the market.

Richard S. “Ricky” Dickson, now president and CEO of Blue Bell, was on the witness stand for the second day in a row Thursday. The driver recovered 2.3 million ice cream products, of which about 300 are known to be missing, he said. That translates into a 99.99 percent effectiveness rate, defense attorney Chris Froder said.

With the prosecution’s witness schedule disrupted, Judge Robert Pittman told the jury he wanted to postpone the trial until Monday, giving them Friday off. The jury trial in Pittman Court began at 8:30 a.m. and continued until 3:30 p.m., with two 20-minute breaks in between, but no lunch.

This means that the first week of the trial may continue until Monday.

Just before the jury trial begins, the prosecution and defense bring additional Talents.

Floods in Houston and Seattle’s John D. Klein brought Houston’s David W. Overhus. Overhuls brings a wealth of experience as the state attorney for the Houston area.

Department of Justice team consisting of Kathryn A. Schmidt, Matthew Joseph Lash, Patrick Hearn, and Tara M. Shinnick, joined by Anthony J. Nardozzi.

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