A federal court in Texas ordered Blue Bell Ice Cream to pay $17.25 million in criminal penalties for shipments of contaminated ice cream in 2015.
In May 2020, Blue Bell pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of distributing contaminated ice cream. Three people died and 10 were hospitalized because of the outbreak, KTLA sister station KDAF in Texas reports.
The $17.25 million fine is the largest-ever criminal penalty following a conviction in a food safety case, the Department of Justice said.
“American consumers must be able to trust that the foods they purchase are safe to eat,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a statement. “The sentence imposed today sends a clear message to food manufacturers that the Department of Justice will take appropriate actions when contaminated food products endanger consumers.”
This summer Blue Bell’s former CEO and president was charged in relation to the case.
In 2016, Blue Bell was also ordered to pay $850,000 in fines, which could be reduced to $175,000 if it complied with testing and inspection requirements.