Blue Bell Creameries has begun taking the necessary steps to get its ice cream back on the market. According to a press release, posted to Twitter by reporter Gary Dinges, the company has informed the FDA of its plans to start test production inside its Alabama facility within the next few weeks. Once the trial run begins, it will be on a limited basis as "the company seeks to confirm that new procedures, facility enhancements, and employee training have been effective."
This comes just months after the creamery was forced to recall all of its products in the U.S., as well as globally. The recall was due to contamination of Listeria — a potentially deadly bacteria — that was connected to three deaths in Kansas, as well as additional illnesses in the state and in Texas. Some fans of the ice cream were not deterred by the bacterial outbreak, taking to Craigslist to buy old tubs of the frozen treat for inflated prices. The recall not only affected ice cream addicts, but also employees of the large company who were laid off as a result.
The restarting of production in Alabama is the first good scoop of news from the company since the closing of all its facilities. While Blue Bell could begin churning out ice cream as early as July 20 (the date is subject to change), the closely monitored product won't be available for sale just yet. According to Alabama Health Department spokesman Ron Dawsey, an official will be present at the facility during the trial period.
If all goes well, Blue Bell has plans to begin building inventory for a return to the market. Greg Bridges, vice president of operations for the company, talked about its commitment to its consumers: "Our focus throughout this process has been to sure the public that when our products return to market, they are safe. We are excited about taking these first steps as part of the process of getting high-quality Blue Bell products back to consumers."