Troubled Texas ice cream maker says products to return this month

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 17, 2015 3:24 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries will put its products back on store shelves for sale from Aug. 31 as it tries to restart operations after a Listeria outbreak led to a recall of its products and a hit to its reputation, it said on Monday.

The Brenham, Texas, based creamery notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state health officials in Alabama and Texas of its plan to re-enter markets on a limited basis, it said in a statement.

The Houston, Brenham and Austin areas, as well as parts of Alabama, will be the first to receive ice cream products following rigorous testing and revised production protocols, it said.

"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.

Three peopled sickened by Listeria between January 2014 and January 2015 died in a Kansas hospital where Blue Bell products were served, according to health officials.

Health officials gave approval in August for Blue Bell to resume making ice cream at its Alabama plant.

The company said ice cream would be distributed in parts of 15 states in five phases.

Blue Bell reached an agreement earlier this year with Texas health officials for the return of its ice cream to stores. Terms require Blue Bell to give two weeks' notice before it ships its products so they can be tested.

(Additional reporting by Jim Forsyth and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)