The Blue Bell ice cream store is, for all intents and purposes, closed for right now, as the company announces a period of “intensive cleaning and training.” The company, racked by a major recall of all of its products (see official statement, below), is attempting to get out in front with its public notification of its current actions. The most recent release states:
On Monday, April 27, Blue Bell Ice Cream will embark on an intensive cleaning program while it simultaneously conducts a new training program for its employees at all four production facilities with locations in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas.
After a thorough review of operations and discussions with an expert microbiologist, it was decided this cleaning and training program will greatly benefit Blue Bell as it moves forward. Ice cream being produced this week will be used for testing and gathering baseline data and will not be sold to the public.
Training and future improvements at Blue Bell include:
-Highly aggressive cleaning techniques
-Increased actions focused on sanitation and cleanliness
-Strengthening of standard operating procedures
-Enhancements to its preventative maintenance program
-Equipment design changes
“We’ve always worked to make the very highest quality ice cream,” said Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse. “We intend to make a fresh start and that begins with intensive cleaning and enhanced training. This is a paradigm shifting event at Blue Bell and we want to put in place new systems to drive continuous improvement.”
You can also watch a message from the Blue Bell CEO, by clicking here.
The recall was announced on April 20, 2015, with this release:
Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is voluntarily recalling all of its products currently on the market made at all of its facilities including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”
The products being recalled are distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts, convenience stores and supermarkets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations*.
Today’s decision was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell which revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015, contained the bacteria. This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants and as previously reported five patients were treated in Kansas and three in Texas after testing positive for Listeria monocytogenes.