State officials gave the thumbs up on Wednesday for troubled Texas company Blue Bell to resume making ice cream in its Alabama plant after a shut-down due to Listeria cases linked to its products that led to a recall and public health worries.
Jim McVay, Director of the Bureau of Health Promotion in the Alabama Department of Public Health told Reuters officials have inspected the changes made at a Blue Bell plant in the town of Sylacauga and approved production.
"Our staff has visited the plant and determine it meets standards, and Blue Bell is entitled to produce any time they would like," he said.
Three people made ill by Listeria between January 2014 and January 2015 died in a Kansas hospital where Blue Bell frozen treats were served, health officials said.
Blue Bell's other two plants, in Oklahoma and Texas, remain shut. Texas has reached an agreement with Blue Bell to have its products tested and eventually brought back to stores.
The Brenham, Texas, based creamery in April pulled all of its ice cream and other frozen products off the shelves in the 25 states where it has been sold after 10 cases of Listeria in four states were linked to Blue Bell products.
Blue Bell has laid off more than a third of its workforce due to the shut down, and pledged to address the problems that led to the contamination.
"It has been several weeks that the testing has been done," McVay said. "We have determined that they meet all of our standards."
Blue Bell did not give an indication of when production of ice cream may resume, or when its products may again be on the market.
Blue Bell received a $135 million investment from Texas billionaire Sid Bass, which has enabled the company to continue to conduct testing during the time that its product has been off the market.