Broken Arrow Blue Bell Plant To Start Test Runs This Week

Monday, August 31st 2015, 6:40 am
By: News On 6

Blue Bell Ice Cream's Broken Arrow plant will resume production this week, according to the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce.

The company shut down the facility in April after some of its products were found to be contaminated with listeria.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce president Wes Smithwick said 70% of the plant's work force is back at work this week, the other 30% will return next week.

"This is a day we've been waiting for the past several months," Smithwick said. He said it will take months for Blue Bell to ramp up to full production at the factory.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Director Stan Stromberg said he's received notification from Blue Bell that it is restarting production at the plant.

The plant was cleared for production about two weeks ago after submitting a plan to the Department of Agriculture, Stromberg said. Under the new plan, the company has agreed to test every batch of ice cream for listeria for a year before sending it out to consumers.

The company has also agreed to notify the Department of Agriculture if any batch tests positive for the bacteria.

8/24/15 Related Story: Blue Bell Announces First Returning Flavor

Blue Bell ice cream returned to store freezers in the Houston area Monday. 

Blue Bell delivered ice cream to stores early Monday and customers were waiting. Only four flavors are being offered now; Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, Cookies 'N Cream and The Great Divide.  

Residents in College Station, Austin, and Houston are the among the first to purchase Blue Bell ice cream and some stores are putting limits on how much Blue Bell customers can buy.

Still no word when we'll see Blue Bell on the shelves here in Tulsa, but the company does have a multiphase plan to roll out ice cream in all of its markets. It could be only a few more weeks.