Blue Bell Creameries plans to resume ice cream distribution to select markets in Texas and Alabama after sales and production were stopped due to listeria contamination.
The Brenham TX-based company said it intends to re-enter parts of 15 states in five phases. The first phase, which starts August 31, will include the Brenham, Houston, and Austin areas in Texas and the Birmingham and Montgomery areas in Alabama.
Blue Bell’s facility in Sylacauga AL began producing ice cream in July. Production facilities in Brenham and Broken Arrow OK are still undergoing upgrades similar to those achieved at the Alabama plant. The company said it remains unsure when the Broken Arrow and Brenham plants will re-open.
In April, the ice cream maker voluntarily recalled all products after they were linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths occurring in Kansas.
Listeria, a bacteria that can cause serious illness, particularly in older adults, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems, was discovered in the Broken Arrow plant.
Blue Bell now faces a federal lawsuit by a former Houston man who contends he was left with permanent brain damage after consuming the products.
After Texas and Alabama, sales will resume in this order: north central Texas and southern Oklahoma; southwest Texas and central Oklahoma; and most of Texas and southern Louisiana. Phase five will complete the states of Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas, and begin distribution in Arkansas, Florida, northern Louisiana and Mississippi, plus parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
The company has provided an ice cream locator at www.Bluebell.com.