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Blue Bell Ice Cream Heads Back to Store Shelves Soon

Word from that little creamery in Brenham via their Facebook page is that they will resume “testing production” in the next few weeks at their facility in Alabama. This is the first step to getting Texas favorite ice cream back on the shelves.

“Yes, it’s true…our (Sylacauga) Alabama facility will begin test production in the next several weeks! Thanks again for your support,” Blue Bell’s social media site explained.

The company shut down production in March after some of it’s products were linked to three deaths in a Kansas hospital. Listeria, a dangerous bacteria, was found in a variety of products, and the company recalled all of it’s inventory from every vendor, in what amounted to millions of gallons of ice cream and treats.

Subsequently, hundreds of Blue Bell workers across the country have been laid off, including the headquarters in Brenham, and the production facilities in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Sylacauga.

“We have been working diligently to prepare our facilities to resume test production, and our focus throughout this process has been to ensure the public that when our products return to market, they are safe,” said Greg Bridges, vice president of operations for Blue Bell, in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “We are very excited about taking these important first steps as part of the process of getting high-quality Blue Bell products back to consumers.”

Breitbart Texas previously reported that on May 15, Blue Bell Creameries announced that it would lay off 1,450, 37% of its 3,900 workers, because of the recall and the time needed to resume production. They also announced that another 1,400 would be temporarily furloughed until the clean-up finishes. The remaining employees, who are essential to the clean-up effort, also had wage reductions imposed on them. Some of those employees have undergone extensive training for cleaning and testing for contamination.

Blue Bell has only been able to resume manufacturing activities after multiple inspections and reaching an agreement with the Alabama State Health Department and other agreements with the state agencies in in Texas and Oklahoma.

In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas in May, Blue Bell announced they had  reached reached an agreement with Texas and Oklahoma authorities. The agreement covered provisions specific to addressing Listeria, including:
  • Conducting root cause analyses to identify its potential or actual sources;
  • Retaining an independent microbiology expert to establish and review controls to prevent the future introduction of Listeria;
  • Notifying the Texas and Oklahoma state agencies promptly of any presumptive positive test result for Listeria monocytogenes found in ingredients or finished product samples, and providing the state agencies full access to all testing;
  • Ensuring that the company’s Pathogen Monitoring Program (PMP) for Listeria in the plant environment outlines how the company will respond to presumptive positive tests for Listeria species; and,
  • Instituting a “test and hold” program to assure that products are safe before they are shipped or sold.

“These detailed agreements will help guide us back to producing the safe, high-quality products that Blue Bell is known for,” CEO Paul Kruse said  in the statement in May. “We appreciate the tremendous public support we have received, and we look forward to working with our regulatory agencies and returning to making ice cream as soon as possible.”

Blue Bell has not committed to a date when full scale production will resume, when workers will be recalled, or when deliveries will commence.

Milford is a news contributor to Breitbart Texas. You can follow him on Facebook.

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