Blue Bell Facilities Won’t Reopen for ‘Several Months’
In a recent statement, Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse said he doesn't expect the company's facilities to reopen anytime soon.
“Unfortunately, we do not yet have a firm timeline for when Blue Bell Ice Cream will be back in stores, but we believe at this time that it will be several months at a minimum,” said Kruse. "We are evaluating all of our operations in light of this extended timeline, we are working closely with the appropriate federal and state regulatory agencies and our microbiology experts, and we are mapping out the many details of returning to production and distribution as soon as we can do so with confidence. We thank all our customers for their support and patience as we work to create the cleanest, safest environment possible to produce the high-quality, great-tasting ice cream people expect from Blue Bell."
The Brenham, Texas-based ice cream company recalled all of its ice cream products in April after one of its facilities tested positive for listeria.
Blue Bell says its facilities will all be taking the following steps:
- Evaluating and making facility repairs, including replacing floors, floor tiles and ceiling tiles, as needed.
- Conducting thorough cleaning and sanitizing, including disassembling and steam cleaning all equipment, and inspecting and sanitizing all HVAC systems.
- Working with a team of independent microbiologists to review and revise all cleaning and sanitization procedures, and installing new control systems to provide higher hot water temperatures for cleaning and sanitizing.
- Eliminating possible contamination pathways, including redesigning work spaces to re-route traffic in production areas, placing barriers between work areas, installing additional foot washers at doors into production areas, and discontinuing use of outside materials such as wood pallets in sanitary areas.
- Establishing revised protocols and quality assurance requirements for environmental and product sample testing, including a more rigorous monitoring program for Listeria.
- Destroying existing cardboard containers, boxes and product wrappers that could potentially provide a pathway for contamination. Plants will discontinue the reuse of cardboard shipping sleeves.
- Continuing employee training in microbiology and detailed cleaning and sanitization methods and systems.
Following the recall, Blue Bell says it has collected some 8 million gallons of its own product from retailers. The company is urging consumers who still may have Blue Bell ice cream products to dispose of it immediately. Blue Bell also has a phone line people can call with questions: 979-836-7977.
If you go to the official Blue Bell website, you'll find their entire press release regarding the recall and plans to get back to business.
Reports claim that Blue Bell knew that their facilities tested positive back for listeria in 2013.