BRENHAM, TEXAS — The wait is nearly over for Blue Bell Creameries after the company announced it will begin distributing ice cream to select markets on Aug. 31. The Brenham-based company has notified the Food and Drug Administration and state health officials in Alabama and Texas of its plan to re-enter select markets on a limited basis.
|Ricky Dickson, vice-president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell.|
“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.”
Blue Bell restarted ice cream production at its facility in Sylacauga, Ala., in late July, and additional production facilities in Brenham, and Broken Arrow, Okla., are still undergoing facility and production process upgrades similar to those made at the Alabama plant.
Due to the limited production capacity while producing in one facility, Blue Bell said it will re-enter parts of 15 states in five phases. The first of the five phases will be similar to how Blue Bell began and include the Brenham, Houston and Austin, Texas, areas, as well as parts of Alabama, (Birmingham and Montgomery) where the product is being made. The next phases include:
• Phase Two: North central Texas and southern Oklahoma
• Phase Three: Southwest Texas and central Oklahoma
• Phase Four: The majority of Texas and southern Louisiana.
• Phase Five: Complete the states of Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas and begin distribution in Arkansas, Florida, northern Louisiana and Mississippi. This phase also will include only parts of the following states: Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Blue Bell said it will move on to each phase based on product availability and when it can properly service the customers in an area. With the exception of phase one, no other dates have been determined for when each expansion will take place, the company said.
Blue Bell on April 20 voluntarily recalled all of its products, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks, on the market made at all of its facilities. On June 9, the company said it had provided the F.D.A. a detailed list of corrective actions that were under way in response to the agency’s inspection reports of Blue Bell’s production facilities in Brenham, Broken Arrow and Sylacauga. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 10 said it had ended its investigation of the Listeriosis outbreak that affected a reported 10 people, including 3 who died. The investigation indicated various Blue Bell brand products were the source of the outbreak.