Make room in your freezer, because after a months-long hiatus, Blue Bell ice cream is finally returning to a store near you. Blue Bell Creameries recalled its ice cream nationwide and shut down all its plants in April, due to a listeria outbreak that linked 10 illnesses in four states and three deaths in Kansas to the product. On Monday, the company announced that its ice cream will return to select stores soon. So when is Blue Bell coming back?
According to Blue Bell's announcement, the company notified the Food and Drug Administration in Texas and Alabama of its plan. In the statement, Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing, said: "Over the past several months we have been working to make our facilities even better, and to ensure that everything we produce is safe, wholesome and of the highest quality for you to enjoy. This is an exciting time for us as we are back to doing what we love ... making ice cream!" Since only one Alabama Blue Bell factory has reopened and the company is still making a limited amount of treats, the creamery will reenter stores in phases, beginning on August 31 with Brenham, Houston, and Austin in Texas, as well as Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama.
Blue Bell didn't specify when its ice cream will be on the shelves in other areas after that initial phase, but it did outline the order in which states will get its products. Here's their full five-phase plan:
Phase 1: Brenham, Houston, and Austin, Texas and Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama
Phase 2: North central Texas and southern Oklahoma
Phase 3: Southwest Texas and central Oklahoma
Phase 4: The majority of Texas and southern Louisiana
Phase 5: Complete the states of Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas, and begin distribution in Arkansas, Florida, northern Louisiana, and Mississippi. This phase will also include only parts of the following states: Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
As for when each phase will be implemented, Blue Bell said it will "move on to each phase based on product availability and when it can properly service the customers in an area." Before the listeria problem, Blue Bell ice cream was sold in 23 states, and the company's plan only accounts for 15, so it's unclear when the remaining eight states will have the treats back in stock.
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