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BRENHAM (CBSDFW.COM) – Get ready for more Blue Bell Ice Cream to hit store shelves soon, because the company said Wednesday that production has finally resumed at its headquarters in Brenham. It is great news for Blue Bell lovers, but there is still no set date for when treats produced at this facility will be available for sale to customers.
Tours have not started at the Brenham facility yet, but the location’s store, visitor center and ice cream parlor are all open.
The facility has been closed since April, when a deadly listeria outbreak shut down production and forced Blue Bell Ice Cream out of stores over the summer. CBS News spoke with former Blue Bell production workers who detailed unsanitary conditions in the facility, such as melted ice cream pooling on the floors.
The company had to make many changes to its production facilities, and said that workers no longer feel that cleanliness is an issue. Products are also now required to pass a safety test before they are shipped out. However, due to these new procedures, and the employee training that comes with them, operations at the Brenham facility are still limited.
“I’m excited about being able to get back down on the production floor,” said David Hutchinson, a Blue Bell worker for the last 34 years.
“Over the past several months, we have been preparing our facility for this day,” stated Greg Bridges, Blue Bell’s vice president of operations. “We are very thankful for the patience and support our customers have shown Blue Bell.”
Five flavors of the ice cream returned to North Texas stores earlier this month: Buttered Pecan, Cookies ‘n Cream, Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate and The Great Divide. These products were made at facilities in Oklahoma and Alabama. There is no timetable for when additional flavors will be made available.
Blue Bell products are also now on sale at stores in Waco, Houston and Austin — along with Brenham. North Texas was added during the company’s second phase of the rollout. Five phases are planned, with the third one starting in December. “Give us a shot,” said the company’s Dallas sales manager John Garner, when the treats returned to the DFW area. “We think we’ve done a great job of coming back. We just want you to give us a chance.”
“That’s pretty much the only ice cream that I ever really eat,” added Blue Bell fan Katherine Morgan.