Blue Bell, Jeni's Ramp up Distribution, Production Post Recalls
It's a big week for ice cream lovers. Blue Bell Creameries is returning to a limited number of grocery stores and Jeni's Splendid has resumed operations at its shuttered facility.
Listeria hit both companies hard, with contaminated Blue Bell ice cream responsible for an outbreak that resulted in three deaths. Blue Bell and Jeni's are slowly back up and running after shutting down their facilities following their respective recalls.
Blue Bell Rolls out Limited Distribution
Only one of Blue Bell's three plants is currently producing ice cream so distribution will be limited. The Alabama location began producing ice cream in late July, but the Brenham, Texas and Broken Arrow, Okla., locations are still being upgraded to lessen the likelihood of future listeria contamination.
According to the company website, distribution will be rolled out in five phases. Unfortunately, unless you live in Brenham, Houston, or Austin, Texas, you'll have to wait a bit longer to get your hands on a tub. North Carolina isn't slated until the fifth phase of distribution.
Blue Bell issued a recall for all of its product in April after issuing a withdrawal announcement for products found in institutional settings, like hospitals, and grocery stores began issuing their own recalls.
News outlets later reported that inspection reports dating back to 2013 showed that the plants had sanitation problems and evidence of listeria. At the time of the contamination, the problems had never been fixed. The family-owned company nearly went under, but it was saved by billionaire investor Sid Bass.
Jeni's Splendid Alters its Production Chain
Columbus Business First reports that the production kitchen linked to Jeni's April listeria recall has reopened, but will no longer be producing ice cream. Instead, the kitchen will be used to handle and prepare ingredients that are used for the final product.
Once those ingredients – like produce – are processed and cleaned they will be sent to Smith Diary to become ice cream. The dairy has been making limited quantities of ice cream since the larger kitchen closed in June.
Jeni's founder, Jeni Britton Bauer, recently told a group of business summit attendees that the industry can't rely on sporadic inspections to ensure food safety and it's up to businesses to make products that are safe for customers to eat.