An investment by a prominent Texas businessman will ensure the return of Blue Bell ice cream to the market after listeria contamination prompted a shutdown in manufacturing, the company said today. Billionaire businessman Sid Bass, an investor and philanthropist whose father and uncle built an oil fortune, has become a partner in Blue Bell Creameries, says CEO and President Paul Kruse. The privately held company stopped production at its plants in Brenham, Texas; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Sylacauga, Arkansas, after issuing a national recall in April because of concerns about listeria. Its ice cream was linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.
No date has been given for when Blue Bell products could be back in stores. Blue Bell last week announced plans to test production runs at its Alabama plant. After a trial period, the company plans to begin building inventory to resume commercial sales. The company did not reveal the amount of Bass' investment, but Kruse said Bass made a "significant investment" and the "additional capital will ensure the successful return of our ice cream." Blue Bell is extremely popular in its home state of Texas, and Bass and his family have deep ties to Fort Worth. Forbes last year ranked Bass as the 324th wealthiest person in the US.