Blue Bell Creamery Listeria Case Drawing to a Close


On Tuesday, March 28th, Paul Kruse, former CEO of Blue Bell Creamery, will plead guilty to a food safety misdemeanor.  It is understood that the Court will impose a fine of $100,000.  An August 2022 trial of United States v. Paul Kruse ended in a hung jury (10 to 2) with the Department of Justice readying for retrial.


The charge relates to outbreaks of listeriosis acquired from contaminated Blue Bell ice cream. The charge, to which Kruse will plead guilty, included “introduction and delivery into interstate commerce, ice cream that was adulterated, rendering the product injurious to health”.


According to court testimony in the 2022 trial, Paul Kruse in his capacity of CEO was aware of contamination in Blue Bell production facilities and failed to take appropriate action to resolve the problem to avoid illness among consumers.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a retrospective investigation linking Blue Bell Creamery plants to sporadic Listeria outbreaks extending from 2010 to 2015.


Admittedly, the fraud committed by the Parnell brothers, responsible for extensive outbreaks of salmonellosis through shipping contaminated products from their Peanut Corporation of America plant, was far more egregious and resulted in extended prison terms for the owners of the enterprise.  Kruse can consider himself fortunate that although he is now a slightly less rich individual responsible for the loss of his family enterprise, he is free to live the rest of his life in retirement, unlike those who died from listeriosis.