BRENHAM (CBS 11 NEWS) – Joanne Kasten and her friends didn’t mind that they didn’t get to tour the Blue Bell plant in Brenham — even after their 110 mile journey on motorcycle. “We knew we were taking a risk, but the ride was already planned.”
They’ll just come another time. “Always look forward to Blue Bell — for decades.”
For the first time in its 108 year history, the company has issued a total recall.
Blue Bell is voluntarily pulling all products from store shelves worldwide after more tests came back that more ice cream tested positive for the listeria bacteria — which can make children, the elderly, and pregnant women sick.
Joe Robinson, a company spokesman says, “We’re serious about this and we will find this.”
The company has a team from the FDA, state and local health inspectors, and a microbiologist helping figure out why some of their products contained the listeria bacteria.
The company is still making a limited amount of ice cream in Brenham, and is having the products tested, before they can be sold.
Robertson says, “We want to come back and at some point, go from crawling to walking and then hopefully earn the people’s trust back.”
Joanne Kasten agrees, “Blue Bell has been a pristine company for a long time. I think this is a bump in the road, I really do.”
The company hopes to have some of its products back in stores by early next week, and if all goes well, have store shelves re-stocked within two to three weeks.
Blue Bell won’t say how much this is costing, other than to say the recall involves eight million gallons of ice cream.
While this is the biggest challenge facing the company, it’s getting a lot of support from the surrounding community.
All throughout downtown Brenham, you will find stores with flyers hanging on windows and doors saying they proudly support Blue Bell.
Charlie Pyle, owner of the Must Be Heaven Sandwich Shoppe is among them. “We take great pride in the fact that Blue Bell is located right here in Brenham, Texas.”
There’s no doubt in his mind about the company’s future. “Oh yeah, they';ll get through this. They have quality people, they know what they’re doing. They’re great business people, great Christians, and they’re doing the right thing for the right reason.”
Robertson, who started as a truck driver and salesman, has worked at Blue Bell for nearly 30 years, and says morale is as good as can be expected.
“We’ve not gone into a recall in our 108 year history, so it’s something new and we don’t want to get used to it. But I think we’re all resolute and we’re going to work through this.”
At the Must Be Heaven Sandwich Shoppe and elsewhere, they’re trying to lift employees’ spirits. “They’re taking a little hit to their pride. They love what they do and they do it well.”
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