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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Blue Bell creameries has laid off nearly 40-percent of its workforce as the company works to get its ice cream back on store shelves following a massive recall prompted by listeria contamination issues.

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The company released a statement saying it has laid off 1450 employees (750 full-time and 700 part-time), and another 1400 employees will be furloughed.  The layoffs represent about 37 percent of the company’s total workforce.  In the DFW area, approximately 160 employees have been furloughed, 12 employees have been laid off.

Blue Bell says the layoffs were necessary because of the time it will take before it can once again start producing and selling ice cream.  Cleaning and improving the company’s four production plants located in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama will take longer than originally expected, according to a released statement.  Three people have died and another five have been sickened by Blue Bell ice cream contaminated with listeria.

Blue Bell’s CEO Paul Kruse said in a statement, ““The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell’s CEO and President.  At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible.  At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally.”

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WATCH MESSAGE FROM BLUE BELL CEO:

An Agonizing Decision from Blue Bell Creameries on Vimeo.

Blue Bell has suspended operations and laid off employees at distribution centers in at Phoenix (2 centers) and Tucson, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana;  Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada;  Raleigh and  Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and, Richmond, Virginia.

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