Blue Bell status unclear
Published 9:11 pm Monday, August 17, 2015
Blue Bell Creameries has announced its plans to begin distributing ice cream again after a listeria outbreak linked to its products killed three people in Kansas and infected at least 10 in four states.
Ice cream will begin moving to select markets on Aug. 31, according to a company press release. However, there’s no timeline for when Virginia consumers will be able to buy the product again.
A company spokeswoman also said the company does not yet know what will happen to its distribution facility in North Suffolk, where 30 to 40 workers were laid off in May after the outbreak.
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“Over the past several months we have been working to make our facilities even better, and to ensure that everything we produce is safe, wholesome and of the highest quality for you to enjoy,” said Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell. “This is an exciting time for us as we are back to doing what we love…making ice cream.”
The Blue Bell production facility in Sylacauga, Ala., began producing ice cream in late July. Additional production facilities in Brenham, Texas, and Broken Arrow, Okla., are still undergoing facility and production process upgrades similar to those made at the Alabama plant.
With only one plant currently producing ice cream, parts of Alabama and Texas will be the first to receive products. There is a five-phase process, with Virginia in the last phase.
The phased approach mirrors the way the company’s distribution initially expanded across the country, according to the press release.
Blue Bell will move on to each phase based on product availability and when it can properly serve customers in an area. No dates are determined for any phases beyond the first.
Blue Bell spokeswoman Jenny Van Dorf could not say if or when the Suffolk facility will reopen. The status of the company’s plans to build a new distribution center in Suffolk also is not known.