Blue Bell's comeback continues after deadly listeria outbreak
Nearly three years after a deadly listeria outbreak, Blue Bell ice cream is back on store shelves in Indiana, Kentucky and New Mexico.
Blue Bell, which had possessed a cult-like following, can be found again as of Monday at Walmart (WMT) and other stores in Indianapolis, Lexington, Albuquerque and surrounding areas, the Brenham, Texas-based company said in separate statements.
"We are glad to be back and excited to be in a position to expand our sales territory," Wayne Hugo, vice president, sales and marketing for Blue Bell, said in the statements.
Blue Bell halted production in April 2015 after 10 people in four states were hospitalized after eating Listeria-tainted ice cream. Three deaths were reported in Kansas, and the Centers for Disease Control warned against consuming any Blue Bell products.
On April 20, 2015, the company recalled eight million gallons of ice cream. It was forced to lay off 1,450 employees, or more than a third of its workforce, and furlough another 1,400.
The company in July 2015 announced a "significant investment" from billionaire Sid Bass, which followed an appeal from Blue Bell's CEO, Paul Kruse, who reportedly told a small group of investors the company needed up to $125 million to ensure the company didn't close.
Blue Bell was founded in 1907 and prior to the recall, it was the nation's number three ice cream maker and sold in 23 states, mostly in the Southeast.
As of Monday, Blue Bell line of more than 40 flavors could be found in 17 states, according the its website.
Blue Bell is "a strong brand with a loyal following, so they have a good shot at coming back, as long as they are very transparent," said food industry analyst Phil Lampert.
Blue Bell did not return requests for comment.
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