Blue Bell can resume production and sale of ice cream manufactured at its Alabama plant, the state's Department of Public Health says. An inspection found that Blue Bell's creamery in Sylacauga, Alabama, meets all state public health standards, and the finding leaves no state objection to resumed production at the plant, a state official says. The company stopped production at plants in Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma plants 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. The recall prompted Blue Bell to lay off a third of its workforce, but it tweeted yesterday that it is now "crankin' out ice cream and building inventory" again.
Blue Bell, which is based in Brenham, Texas, underwent an extensive cleaning and decontamination process at its plants following the recall. No date has been given for when Blue Bell products could be back in stores as its flagship creamery in Texas and the Oklahoma plant remain closed, a Blue Bell spokeswoman says. "We are still finalizing our distribution plan, and do not have a date when our products will return to market," she says. The company says a "significant investment" from billionaire Texas businessman Sid Bass has helped it stay in business. (Read more blue bell stories.)