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Blue Bell Listeria Outbreak Linked To Wood Pallets

image Robin Kiefer image May 21, 2015

 Using sanitary production and handling practices in the food industry should be standard operating procedure; but some members of the food industry members are still using primitive equipment that is ill-suited for the application.

Problems related to unsanitary food handling conditions aren’t just a matter of best practices; it has an impact on public health.

Blue Bell Creameries Listeria Outbreak

Listeria Bacteria

This year, three deaths in Kansas and many more illnesses were linked to Blue Bell Creameries products.

Inadequate cleaning and handling practices, including the use of filthy, porous wood pallets allowed Listeria bacteria to pass into the Blue Bell Creameries products that were later distributed and sold to consumers.

Looking for the whole scoop? Read the AP Press full length article on the Blue Bell Creameries Listeria outbreak here.

And the Blue Bell Creameries Outbreak isn’t the only time Listeriosis has taken lines. In 2011, listeria bacteria in cantaloupes was linked to 30 deaths in the United States.

How Do Wood Pallets Spread Contaminants?

Pallets made from wood can be less expensive, but present many challenges to upholding sanitary food handling practices.

Unfortunately, wood pallets spread contaminants and pathogens because they are designed to harbor nastiness:

  1. Wood pallets are naturally porous and absorbent
  2. Wood pallets are difficult to clean
  3. Wood pallets splinter, causing cuts, scrapes, and punctures to the bodies of materials handling professionals, increasing the likelihood for the spread of bodily fluids and blood borne pathogens.

What You Need To Know About Listeria Bacteria

* Listeria bacteria occurs naturally in water and soil; so safeguard your operations.

* Listeriosis, the infection caused by Listeria, can be deadly; don’t take it lightly.

* Common sources of listeria are deli meats, meat spreads, unpasteurized dairy, and raw sprouts.

* At-risk groups: The elderly, pregnant women, organ transplant recipients taking anti-rejection drugs, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Preventing Pathogens From Contaminating Food Products.

Listeria Outbreaks Are Serious. How can the food industry prevent Listeria contamination and outbreaks?

Clean Up Your Act!

Clean and be clean. Unsafe and unsanitary material handling equipment and practices can lead to illness and death. And for the materials handling professionals out there, we have one very specific recommendation.

Stop Using Unsanitary Wood Pallets

Plastic pallets are the ideal choice for the food industry; some models are even approved by the FDA. One Way solutions carries many different FDA approved pallets, perfect for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries.

What is more costly? Investing in plastic pallets – or:

* losing consumer trust in your brand

* paying for product recalls

* taking human lives

To learn more or receive a competitive quotation, please visit the FDA plastic pallet category on our website here.

Do It Right – Jeni’s Ice Cream Listeria Scare

Follow Your Food Testing Protocols!

Follow your listeria testing protocols and monitoring/testing intervals closely to make sure you are in compliance. Jeni’s Ice Cream’s testing habits detected the presence of listeria in its products before the ice cream was served to consumers.

Be Honest!

Although Jeni’s Ice Cream found listeria in its products twice in 2015, it quickly and clearly communicated with the press and online audience to discuss the steps it was taking to resolve the issue.

Jen’s CEO John Lowe penned a personal letter describing their dedication to the quality of their ice cream and the safety of their customers.

“While we would most certainly prefer that Listeria never enter our facility, we do take solace in the fact that our protocols and testing have worked” – Jeni’s CEO John Lowe

Jeni’s Ice Cream apologized further for closing their ice cream shops; but good news was soon to follow – the stores reopened just in time for the warmer months of summer.

All right palletizers!

Thanks for reading my article. Please leave your comments and let me know how you keep your operations clean and safe.

– Robin

About Robin Kiefer

Robin Spencer Kiefer connects customers with solutions and products. Robin is the Digital Marketing Manager of One Way Solutions.

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3 Comments on “Blue Bell Listeria Outbreak Linked To Wood Pallets

  1. Jess W

    Gross! In my opinion, if all food producers just took some time the review their processes, 99% of these accidents could be avoided. But one thing’s for sure – dirty pallets and food should never mix.


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