In what may be a sweet ending to a sour story, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries announced it will soon resume shipping ice cream across the U.S., according to NBC News. The announcement comes about six months after Blue Bell ceased production and issued a voluntary recall of all of its products after the potentially fatal bacterium Listeria monocytogenes was found in containers of its ice cream and resulted in several deaths.
Blue Bell representatives told a local NBC station that their trucks were driving out to distribution centers and would be delivering to stores soon, but "[a]t this time we have not confirmed a date when our products will be available in stores."
This past May, a month after Blue Bell Creameries issued its first recall, three people had died due to listeria they consumed out of a Blue Bell ice cream tub. A total of 10 people fell ill. Later that month, a man came forward about a listeria-related hospitalization he said he suffered through in 2013. And by May's end, Blue Bell had laid off nearly 1,500 employees as it shut down production and recalled its entire outstanding inventory.
Late last month, the company announced it had resumed ice cream production at its Alabama facility. Since the first week of July, the company has been running test batches at this facility with the FDA's blessing.
Though Blue Bell Creameries appears to have handled a scary situation with as much transparency as a large company can, its image remains marred. Blue Bell Creameries' comeback rests with the wallets of consumers. Will ice cream lovers again reach for the gilded lids on pints and gallons of Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla and Dutch Processed Chocolate? Or have they moved on to competing brands that don't carry a risk or a deadly memory? In a few weeks' time, when Blue Bell's ice cream is back on shelves, it won't be long before the company has its answer.