BA Blue Bell Plant Closed Until Products Are Safe


Tuesday, April 21st 2015, 11:46 pm
By: News On 6


Blue Bell Ice Cream is destroying 8 million gallons of ice cream because of a Listeria threat.

Broken Arrow's Blue Bell plant, as well as three others in Texas and Alabama, will not reopen until the company is certain all its products are safe.

Right now, about 250 people at the Oklahoma plant are off the job, but are still getting paid.

The CDC now says the number of Listeria illnesses linked to Blue Bell products has risen to ten people.

The company said it is getting closer to finding out how the Listeria got into its facilities.

Blue Bell's CEO Paul Kruse said the company is 100 percent committed to doing the right thing, but some people are questioning whether Blue Bell will be able to come back from this.

One Blue Bell representative said there is still no timetable as to when the Broken Arrow plant could re-open.

The company said the focus is on solving the issue and hopes consumers stick with it while it does it.

4/20/2015 Related Story: Blue Bell Recalls All Ice Cream Products Over Listeria Concern

Freezer shelves across the region sit empty after all Blue Bell products were thrown away in light of the Listeria concern.

"We are heartbroken over this situation and apologize to all of our loyal fans and customers," Kruse said.

Kruse told customers the company is committed to getting things right; a good move according to business strategy expert, Dr. Tracy Suter.

"At this point they've done all the right things by making sure the product is off the shelves and making sure people understand the severity of this issue from their perspective," Suter said.

The public now waits while the company sanitizes its plants and sends samples to labs for testing.

But how long will people wait before deciding to go with another brand?

For a company like Blue Bell, Suter said its dedication to the community will go a long way.

"They will give them some level of leeway to deal with a difficult situation like this because of the positive credits they've built up in their emotional bank account if you will," he said.

The company can't say with certainty at this point where the Listeria was introduced, and until that is figured out the shelves will remain empty.

"Our entire history has been dedicated to making the very best and highest quality ice cream we could and we are committed to fixing the problem," Kruse said.

Many believe if the transparency continues so will the trust from the public.

"Our neighbors had a problem and Oklahomans are really good about going and supporting their neighbors," Suter said.

He said Peter Pan peanut butter is a company that dealt with its salmonella scare correctly by getting ahead of the problem and addressing the public immediately.

Toyota, he said, is one that wasn't so successful because he said it blamed others when it had a massive recall due to accelerators in certain models.

Consumers who have purchased Blue Bell items are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information consumers with questions may call 1-866-608-3940 Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. CST or go to bluebell.com.