The machines started humming this week, the mixers were running, and the freezers were chilling. They started making ice cream. Not just ice cream, but Blue Bell Ice Cream — “The Best Ice Cream in the Country.” The production crew was making sure they followed all the new procedures for getting cleaned up and the equipment spic & span. In the Blue Bell plant in Sylacauga Alabama, everyone was smiling.
This was the first batch of Blue Bell being produced since March in any of the Blue Bell plants. This batch will not be headed to stores. Instead, it will be tested to make certain the new procedures have eliminated the listeria bacteria that has plagued the company since earlier this year.
The recalls and shutdowns followed the March hospital deaths in Kansas that were connected to Listeria-infected product produced in the Blue Bell plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Since then, more than 2,500 employees were laid off or furloughed at all the facilities, as previously reported by Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price. The company instituted vigorous top to bottom cleanings instituted, along with increased training for production employees covering both cleaning and product safety.
With the recall, between 5 and 6 MILLION gallons of product was destroyed across the nation as grocery shelves were stripped clean of the third best-selling ice cream. Fans have been heartbroken, and missing what some call their “4th food group” that was a part of their lives. One Facebook meme connected the horrible Texas flooding of May to God crying over the loss of Blue Bell.
The damage to the company’s reputation and to their bottom line have been the stuff of great speculation over the last few months, including their ability to bounce back, or if they were ripe for a takeover for another company. Those fears were abated by the entry last week of Fort Worth billionaire Sid Bass, who brought $125 million dollars to that table in exchange for about a one-third ownership of the iconic Texas company, as previously reported by Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick.
All three facilities of Blue Bell have undergone top-to-bottom inspections by state health departments with new cleaning plans spelled out in detail, and the ongoing product testing plans for every batch of product. No date is currently set for any plants to begin production at thsi time, except for the Alabama facility.
The return to store shelves will come when the facilities have their freezers full and the transportation staff recalled to handle the deliveries. As of now, there is no date certain for the comeback of the state’s favorite ice cream.
This article has been updated with additional information.
Milford is a news contributor to Breitbart Texas and a frequent consumer of Blue Bell products. You may follow him on Facebook.