After being pulled from shelves for nearly six months due to listeria concerns, Blue Bell ice cream returned to North Texas Monday.
Stores began receiving shipments of the beloved ice cream just before 5 a.m. Several stores hosted parties to welcome the ice cream back to the area.
Monday is part of Phase Two of the Brenham-based company's comeback. The ice cream was first shipped to Houston, Austin, and Brenham in August and only five flavors are available right now:
- Dutch Chocolate
- Homemade Vanilla
- The Great Divide
- Buttered Pecan
- Cookies 'n Cream
There is no word yet when additional flavors will re-enter the market.
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"We do not have a date for any other phases at this time," Blue Bell spokesman Ricky Dickson said. "As soon as we know that we can properly service the customers in an area with an adequate supply of Blue Bell ice cream, we will move to the next phase."
The company shut down all production April 20 following three deaths connected to listeria-tainted ice cream. The company insisted that the ice cream is safe to eat now.
Its Oklahoma and Alabama plants are online after rigorous safety checks. Its Brenham plant remains closed as it goes through improvements.
"We have experienced tremendous consumer response and support since our return to stores on Aug. 31," Dickson said. "This support, coupled with our current production capacity, has slowed our ability to enter additional distribution areas. We are working as hard as we can to keep stores in phase one stocked without jeopardizing the new quality and safety procedures we have implemented to ensure our products are safe and of the highest quality."