The Alabama Department of Health has announced that the iconic ice cream maker Blue Bell Creameries would restart ice cream production trial runs at their Sylacauga, Alabama plant. The trials are projected to start as early as July 20th of this year. To closely monitor and test new enhancement, training and procedures, the trials runs will be carried out on a limited basis.
The production runs come after two Blue Bell plants in Texas and Alabama were closed after being traced to 10 cases of listeriosis, a bacteria which can cause death. Three cases were found in Texas along with five in Kansas, one in Arizona and one in Oklahoma. Kansas saw three of the five infected patients die from the disease.
After these discoveries, the Center for Disease Control began an investigation at the suspected plants. According to the CDC, just last month, the investigation following the listeria outbreak ended. In a May statement, the CDC also suggested that consumers not eat the affected products and for providers to not sell them as “people could continue to get sick”.
Blue Bell has been working tirelessly to resume test production by preparing their facilities. Vice President of Operations, Greg Bridges stated that Blue Bell is, “very excited about taking these important steps as part of the process of getting high-quality Blue Bell products back to consumers. Bridges also added that the focus of these trial runs is to guarantee the public that Blue Bell’s products will be safe when returned to the market.
Before starting the trial runs, Blue Bell has been ordered by the Texas Health Department to issue a notification of resuming operations. However, the Texas Health Department has yet to receive this notification from Blue Bell. Although there is no set date, the company’s attempt to clean up their tainted facilities is a sign of progress. The public inspection records linked to the investigation were released by the Food and Drug Administration in May.