Blue Bell Creameries has reached an agreement with Texas and Oklahoma health officials on steps it must take before it can resume production start selling ice cream again, after a listeria outbreak forced it to recall all its products and shuttered its plants.
The steps include “rigorous facility cleaning and sanitizing, revised testing protocols, revised production policies and procedures designed to prevent future contamination,” the company said in its announcement Thursday.
The statement did not specify exactly when production might resume.
Blue Bell shut down production and recalled all of its ice cream after listeria was found in several flavors and three deaths in Kansas were linked to the bacteria.
“We are committed to meeting the high standards and expectations of our customers and our regulatory agencies,” said Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse. “State and federal regulatory agencies play an important role in food safety, and we hope that it will be reassuring to our customers that we are working cooperatively.”
The agreement also requires Blue Bell to report any future positive tests for listeria to the health department within 24 hours. State health inspectors will be at the plant “regularly to evaluate test results and monitor the trial runs,” according to a separate statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The creamery also signed an agreement with health officials in Oklahoma, where it operates a plant near Tulsa, and is working on a deal with the state of Alabama, where it operates a third facility, the company said.