Blue Bell ice cream returns to shelves following listeria outbreak

Blue Bell plans to resume selling ice cream in parts of 15 states in five phases. Blue Bell in April voluntarily recalled all products after its treats were linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states.

Orlin Wagner/AP/File
Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kansas.

Blue Bell Creameries will resume distributing ice cream to select markets in Texas and Alabama this month after halting sales and production following listeria contamination.

The Brenham, Texas-based company said Monday that it plans to re-enter parts of 15 states in five phases. The first phase, which starts Aug. 31, will include the Brenham, Houston and Austin areas in Texas and the Birmingham and Montgomery areas in Alabama.

A statement from Blue Bell is below: 

Blue Bell has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state health officials in Alabama and Texas of its plan to re-enter select markets on a limited basis.  

“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.

Due to the limited production capacity while producing in one facility, Blue Bell 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 will also include only parts of the following states:  Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Blue Bell 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.

Blue Bell in April voluntarily recalled all products after its treats were linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.

The Blue Bell production facility in Sylacauga (sihl-uh-KAW'-guh), Alabama, began producing ice cream in July. Production facilities in Brenham, Alabama, and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, still are undergoing upgrades.

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