Welcome back, Blue Bell

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2016

For ice cream lovers, Blue Bell ice cream is now available in grocery stores in the Oxford area. According to Brent Larson of Larson’s Cash Saver, the product was actually put in freezers yesterday. Larson was excited to have Blue Bell back on the shelves, as it is one of the better sellers of ice cream that the store offers.

A total recall of Blue Bell Ice Cream happened in April 2015 after Listeria monocytogenes was found in some of its products and at least three deaths were related to the product. Listeria is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

This was the first time in the history of the 108-year-old family-run business that a total recall of their product has ever happened.

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Blue Bell ice cream is loved in the South partly because it has masterfully marketed itself as a small-town family business whose ice cream is loved by many. Sales before the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak were around $880 million annually. Before the total recall, Blue Bell was the nation’s third-largest ice cream maker.

Immediately after the national recall, Blue Bell laid off 1,450 of its 3,900 employees and furloughed another 1,400. The only thing that allowed Blue Bell to survive during the shutdown was through a $125 million loan commitment from billionaire Sid Bass.

Deliveries yesterday went to Arkansas, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and El Paso in Texas.

Blue Bell will bring back 55 employees who were put on paid furlough earlier this year, which brings the number of furloughed employees brought back to work close to 1,000.

For now Blue Bell is producing the following flavors of ice cream. Buttered Pecan, Coffee, Cookies’n Cream, Dutch Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla, Natural Vanilla Bean, Pistachio Almond and the Great Divide. 12-pak Homemade Vanilla Cups and 12-pak Homemade Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate Cups are also available in stores.

Welcome back, Blue Bell.