We all scream: With listeria fear over, Blue Bell ice cream returns to area shelves

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1.BUYING IN BULK: Customers purchase Blue Bell ice cream in bulk at Claiborne Hill. Photo by Ashley Collins.

1. BUYING IN BULK: Customers purchase Blue Bell ice cream in bulk at Claiborne Hill. Photo by Ashley Collins.


Blue Bell ice cream is back in stores across South Mississippi, eight months after a listeria outbreak halted production.

On Dec. 21, the frozen shelves of grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi were once again stocked with new Blue Bell products, just in time for Christmas.

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The Texas-based company is reintroducing its products back into markets in phases. According to a press release from Blue Bell, this is the second-to-last phase in the company’s five phase market re-entry plan.

Joe Robertson, with Blue Bell’s public relations, said in an email that they have been making progress.

“With the third and fourth phases, we were able to bring back an additional 330 furloughed employees and 55 additional furloughed employees will return Jan. 11, 2016 when we open a bonus phase, which includes El Paso, Texas, Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. A date for our fifth and final phase has not yet been announced.  As with each phase, we are very humbled and grateful for the support and patience from the consumers and our retail partners during this time,” Robertson said in the email.

As products return to stores, an estimated 1,000 workers company-wide are back at work and the Brenham, Texas, production facility began making ice cream again on Nov. 18, according to the press release.

In April, Blue Bell recalled its products after they were linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including several deaths in Kansas. The products were recalled from retail outlets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming, the Item reported in April.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes deadly infections in young children, elderly people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. For the past eight months, the company tested their products and expanded their cleaning and sanitation system to ensure their products are safe for future consumption, according to the release.

As of now, Blue Bell is producing five flavors of ice cream in the half gallon and pint sizes including, Buttered Pecan, Cookies ’N Cream, Dutch Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla and The Great Divide. More flavors will be added in the future.

Blue Bell products are available at the following local stores, Clairborne Hill, Walmart and both WinnDixie locations.

For more information and to find out where Blue Bell is available visit bluebell.com