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Blue Bell To Start Testing Production Run In Alabama Factory Following Listeria Scare

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Ice cream manufacturer Blue Bell Creameries announced on Wednesday that it will conduct test production of its frozen products at its Sylacauga plant in Alabama in the following weeks.

The Texas-based company notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and Alabama health officials of its plan to resume production at its facility. The move is part of Blue Bell's efforts to bring its ice cream products back in the market.

The ice cream maker issued a recall of its product line back in April after discovering traces of Listeria in its samples. The contamination was linked to the death of three people and the infection of seven others according to health officials.

Blue Bell promptly shut down production in its four manufacturing plants in order to sterilize the facilities and implement improvements. The process, however, is taking a longer time to finish than initially thought as Listeria is difficult to eliminate and the microbe can live in pipes and drains for years.

"When production resumes at the Sylacauga plant, it will be on a limited basis as the company seeks to confirm that new procedures, facility enhancements and employee training have been effective," Blue Bell stated in its official statement.

"Ice cream produced will be closely monitored and tested. Upon completion of this trial period, Blue Bell will begin building inventory to return to the market."

Blue Bell did not provide a specific date on when the test production will start or when the company will resume its sale of ice cream.

Greg Bridges, Blue Bell's vice president of operations, explained that the company has worked hard to make its facilities suitable for the resumption of test production. He said that Blue Bell's focus is to ensure that its frozen products are safe for public consumption again.

Bridges added that they look forward to get high-quality Blue Bell ice cream back to consumers.

Last month, Blue Bell released a new set of guidelines for its production lines in response to the USFDA's report on the contamination.

Some of the improvements the company plans to implement include the addition of troughs and splash guards in all of its facilities to prevent condensation from dripping into products as well as a new reconfiguration of its equipment and production lines.

Photo: Josh Grenier | Flickr 

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