Blue Bell Creameries is building inventory for a return to retail sales after a deadly Listeria outbreak forced a temporary shutdown. In a Facebook post, the company told customers to “stay tuned in the coming weeks for details of our return.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said several strains of Listeria were involved in the outbreak tied to the nation’s third-largest ice cream maker. At least 10 people were sickened, three people died.
Cultures of Listeria strains from patients were identical to those found in ice cream made at the company’s plants in Brenham, Texas and Broken Arrow, Okla. The earliest cases were identified in 2010.
The five-year span of the outbreak uncovered a longstanding Listeria problem at all of Blue Bell’s plants. On May 7th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released reports that showed the company was aware of Listeria in its plants in 2013 but did not test the bacteria to discover if it was pathogenic or take measures to eradicate the problem.
Also in in May, the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen filed a lawsuit stemming from the Listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell ice cream. The suit was filed on behalf of David Philip Shockley, a 33-year-old Maryland man who developed Listeria meningitis that left him with severe neurological impairment.
Production of ice cream has resumed only at the company’s plant on Sylacauga, Ala. There is no word on when production at the other sites may begin.