After reading Lexi’s blog post about Blue Bell, I was hoping to delve deeper on the company’s listeria outbreak and how the company coped with the recall for Paper 2. As we know, the company recalled all of its frozen dairy products and ice cream in 2015, after an enhanced sampling program detected listeria monocytogenes within multiple products and across multiple plants. Ten people in four states were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak and three individuals in Kansas died. Unlike other bacteria, listeria can grow even in extreme cold refrigerated temperatures, explaining why the cases spanned over the course of several years. According to manufacturers, because Listeria is found regularly in the natural environment, one can never assume that it can be entirely eradicated. So did Blue Bell make the right call by shutting down its facilities, disposing of eight million gallons of ice cream and leaving several of its employees without jobs? How much can we hold Blue Bell accountable in regards to something that is not fully within the realm of their control? Are they taking sufficient preventative measures in attempts to avoid another outbreak?
After the nationwide recall, Blue Bell Creameries enhanced the testing of its facilities and the company gradually began to replenish its product to store shelves. Since 2015, Blue Bell has found with its enhanced testing some locations in which suspected listeria might be present. While it is not guaranteed that listeria can be entirely eradicated, the purpose of the company’s enhanced environmental testing is to identify locations where bacteria could be found in order to properly clean and sanitize the surface and prevent further/widespread contamination. It is clear that in the midst of crisis, Blue Bell Creameries held a high standard of responsibility. Their approach to the recent blunder was undoubtedly handled with chivalry. The company’s reaction to the listeria outbreak shows that it not only cares about its brand and the quality of its product, but also that it is willing to go above and beyond to ensure that they maintain customers’ trust and satisfaction.
However, in addition to addressing where they are today in regards to CSR, I also plan on discussing what Blue Bell should have been doing all along and why is it that these recalls are oh-so-frequent (i.e. Chipotle and the Ecoli crisis). This links back to proactive versus reactive firms. Why does it take an outbreak like this for corporations to implement safer means of production? These companies are food companies after all. This links back to the deontological school of ethics. It is the food industry’s societal duty to provide its consumers with safe and contamination-free products, so why aren’t these contingencies accounted for before they occur? By looking at Blue Bell from both consequentialist and deontological school of thoughts, I plan to analyze Blue Bells societal duty as a company within the food industry, in addition to dissecting the cost-benefit analysis associated with halting production.
Sources thus far, not including readings from class:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207543.2010.508952 – addressing the root causes of recalls within the supply management chain