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Blue Bell To Begin Trial Runs In July

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FORT WORTH (KRLD/CBSDFW.COM) - After a nearly four month absence from store shelves, Blue Bell ice cream could make a comeback before summer's end.

The company will begin trial runs at its Sylacauga, Alabama plant during the week of July 20, as part of its plan to get the ice cream back in grocer's freezers.

Based on the results of the test runs, a decision will be made about resuming production and getting the ice cream back in stores, but according to a statement from the company, there's no timeline on when that might happen.

Blue Bell entered into an agreement with the Alabama State Health Department on June 1, indicating that it would alert the department when it was ready to resume production.  The voluntary agreement calls for a trial production period before ice cream is distributed to consumers.

Blue Bell entered into similar agreements with the state health departments in Texas and Oklahoma, with the trial production period lasting at least two weeks in Texas.  However, according to the Texas Department of Health, Blue Bell has not reported any plans to produce ice cream at the two Texas plants.

"We have been working diligently to prepare our facilities to resume test production, and our focus throughout this process has been to ensure the public that when our products return to market, they are safe," said Greg Bridges, vice president of operations for Blue Bell, in a written statement. "We are very excited about taking these important first steps as part of the process of getting high-quality Blue Bell products back to consumers."

Blue Bell voluntarily recalled all of its products in March, after some of its ice cream was found to be contaminated with listeria.  Three people who ate the contaminated ice cream died and several others were sickened.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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