Blue Bell Creameries' ice cream is back after a deadly outbreak of listeria bacteria shuttered production and sparked a nationwide recall of the Texas-based company's products. Flavors hit shelves in some stores in Texas and Alabama Monday, more than four months after the company in April recalled all of its ice cream, frozen yogurt and other iced treats due to their possible contamination with the lethal bacteria.
Blue Bell's ice cream has been re-introduced in stores in Houston, Brenham and Austin, Texas, and in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, USA Today reported. Four more phases of Blue Bell's reintroduction to American palettes are scheduled: first in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, then areas of Louisiana and finally the remaining 11 states where Blue Bell is sold.
— Chance Horner (@chancehorner) August 31, 2015
In June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded its investigation into the outbreak of listeria monocytogenes in Blue Bell's products, which were linked to three deaths and seven illnesses. In late April, after a March recall of eight products expanded to include all Blue Bell products, the company announced it would go on an "intensive cleaning program" and temporarily closed production plants in Texas and Oklahoma.
Blue Bell announced last week the first four flavors it planned to reintroduce. The company said in April that when it began production once again, "it will be limited and phased in over time." Flavors in production now are vanilla, Dutch chocolate, cookies 'n cream and The Great Divide.
Our final flavor this week is The Great Divide - a combination of our Homemade Vanilla and rich,… https://t.co/aCn5bq9lHP
— Blue Bell Ice Cream (@ILoveBlueBell) August 27, 2015
The recall hit Blue Bell Creameries hard, with CEO and President Paul Kruse announcing in May that it had been forced to lay off 750 full-time and 700 part-time workers and furlough 1,400 workers in what was an "agonizing decision."
Listeria bacteria thrive in cold environments like ice cream. The bacteria cause the disease listeriosis, which is especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, such as the pregnant or the elderly.