(CNN/WIAT) — Blue Bell ice cream company pleads guilty and agrees to pay $19.3 million in fines for distributing contaminated ice cream causing a listeria outbreak 5 years ago that left three people dead.
According to CNN, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Blue Bell’s former CEO was charged with conspiracy in a scheme to cover up the incident. Federal prosecutors say the $19 million fine is the “second largest ever paid in a food-safety case.”
Blue Bell plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products. The company was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $17.25 million and a $2.1 million fine to settle a civil claim regarding products being manufactured in unsanitary conditions and sold to federal facilities. CNN also says the former CEO, Paul Kruse, was charged with seven felony counts including wire fraud and telling employees to remove the contaminated products without notifying retailers or consumers the reason for the removal.
Blue Bell recalled 8 million gallons of ice cream.
CBS spoke with a few former company employees who spoke out about the conditions. They say management ignored the situation and complaints.
In 2015, the ice cream company announced listeria was found on the lid of a food service cup. They gradually began removing the products before issuing a recall months later.