Jury trial begins in fraud and conspiracy trial involving Blue Blue, an iconic Texas brand

AUSTIN — The timeline played the starring role during the opening arguments at the jury trial of the United States v Paul Kruse.

 Department of Justice attorney Matthew Lash for the prosecution and Houston defense attorney Chris Flood opened the trial. Taken together, they suggested that a food company, during an investigation, can fully cooperate with FDA and state agencies but still face conspiracy and fraud charges if it does not respond with thorough responses to public inquiries that may occur.

Lash and Flood each spoke for about 30 minutes, directing their remarks at the newly impaneled West Texas jury, which includes four alternates among the 12 men and four women.

“This case is about profit, profit before people,” Lash said, just shortly after Judge Robert Pitman said: “The Trial will now begin.”

Lash said defendant Paul Kruse, grandson of the founder of the iconic Texas ice cream brand Blue … Read more

Jury picked for trial of former Blue Bell president; opening arguments today

AUSTIN — It was a long but primarily quiet Monday as a 12-man, four-woman jury was selected to hear the United States v. Paul Krause. 

Kruse is the retired president of Blue Bell Creameries who, as an individual, faces federal felony conspiracy and fraud charges over how he handled Blue Bell’s role in a 2015 mysterious outbreak.

Kruse shut down Bell Blue’s multistate production and recalled all its products, but before that, the government says he suppressed and covered up Listeria contamination.

Eighty Texans from West Texas counties answered the call for jury duty. Judge Robert Pitman first warned the jurors that this trial could last three or four weeks. Jurors were first asked if the trial length would cause them hardship. About 20 said it would, citing self-employment, moving, pre-paid vacations, and school starting.

It was primarily a quiet day because jurors were individually questioned “at the bench” for … Read more

53 nationally distributed beverage products recalled over microbial contamination

Lyons Magnus LLC is recalling nutritional and beverage products because of potential microbial contamination, including from the organism Cronobacter sakazakii. 

Preliminary root cause analysis shows that the products did not meet commercial sterility specifications.

The products are packed in various formats under many different brand names, which are listed in the table below. 

The 53 products were distributed nationally, while some products were limited in scope.

Recalled products:

To identify the Lot Code and Best By Date refer to the top of the carton for individual cartons or the side of the case for multi-carton cases.

The recalled products are:

BrandDescriptionUPC CartonUPC Case (if sold in cases)Lot CodeBest By Date
Lyons Ready CareThickened Dairy Drink – Moderately Thick/Honey Consistency
12ct/32 fl oz cartons
Thickened Dairy Drink – Moderately Thick/Honey Consistency
24ct/8 fl oz cartons
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Oregon’s state inspection program is 28th in the nation

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the State of Oregon have reached a cooperative agreement, under which the state inspection program may inspect meat products produced for shipment within the state.

Under the cooperative agreement, the state inspection program must develop, administer, and enforce requirements “at least equal to” those imposed under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

“Today’s announcement with Oregon will help strengthen our nation’s food system and help prevent supply chain bottlenecks,” said USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary Sandra Eskin. “This program is beneficial to small meat and poultry processors in building their local and state marketplaces.”

With the addition of Oregon, 28 states now have state inspection programs. In states with inspection programs, establishments have the option to apply for federal or state inspection, but product produced under state inspection is limited to intrastate commerce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FSIS provides up to … Read more

FDA releases updates to Cyclospora action plan

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released new updates detailing the agency’s Cyclospora prevention and research efforts.

In 2021, the FDA released its “Cyclospora Prevention, Response and Research Action Plan.” The action plan was developed by the agency’s Cyclospora Task Force and details the FDA’s strategy for reducing the public health burden of foodborne cyclosporiasis in the United States. It also defines the agency’s priorities for Cyclospora food safety research and supports ongoing efforts to combat foodborne illness.

According to the FDA, since releasing the Cyclospora action plan, they have:

  • Collaborated with the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods to develop a charge document to help the FDA guide prioritization of Cyclospora research and propose novel food safety research projects in collaboration with stakeholders.
  • Implemented a genotyping approach for Cyclospora cayetanensis in environmental and food samples based on the same method published by the Centers for Disease
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