Blue Bell Ice Cream Returns to Some Stores 4 Months After Listeria Outbreak

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Blue Bell hometown gets nearly $1.4M federal jobs grant.

BRENHAM, Texas (AP) — The Texas hometown of Blue Bell Creameries received a nearly $1.4 million federal grant the same day ice cream sales resumed after cleanup from listeria contamination.America’s third-largest ice cream brand, which has cultivated a devoted following of ice cream lovers over the past century, has begun delivering ice cream to select markets after a deadly listeria outbreak caused a summer-long factory shutdown and a recall of 8 million gallons of ice cream.The iconic Texas brand is serving up ice cream beginning today in four flavors in five cities: Austin, Brenham and Houston as well as Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. The deadly bacteria contamination, which was linked to three deaths and several other illnesses, could have meant the end for the 108-year-old ice cream maker, which had previously been cited for listeria problems.

Blue Bell ice cream is now available at stores in the Houston and Austin areas, including in the company’s hometown of Brenham, plus parts of Alabama. Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell said in a statement it could take more than a week to “get everyone stocked with ice cream and some locations could sell out quickly. The shot in the arm from Sid Bass, a legendary investor known for making big bets on companies like Walt Disney, helped Blue Bell clean up its production facilities and begin churning out ice cream just in time for the end of summer. But, we will be stocking and restocking as quickly as we can.” “Our products are in nine distribution centers in phase one,” the company said. “We do not have a firm date when products will return to north Texas – but as soon as we can properly service the customers in phase one we will add another phase.” Blue Bell products were removed from the market in April as part of a Listeria-fueled, system wide recall.

But it said “no dates have been determined for when each expansion will take place.” Some retailers limited purchases as Blue Bell rolled out flavors including homemade vanilla, Dutch chocolate, cookies ‘n cream and a side-by-side blend of chocolate and vanilla. “So that all of our customers can enjoy this delicious treat, please limit your purchase to two Blue Bell items,” read a sign on a freezer door at one grocery store. Production plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama underwent an extensive cleaning and decontamination, under the regulatory oversight of health officials. The creamery had been voluntarily sharing test results with the Alabama Department of Public Health and all tests came back negative for listeria contamination.

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