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Food Safety News

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Blue Bell Lays Off Hundreds of Workers Because of Recall

Blue Bell Creameries announced Friday that because of the “extended timeline” required for cleaning up its four manufacturing plants before resuming ice cream production, the company will cut hundreds of employees from its workforce.

On April 20, the company recalled all products made in all four plants due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

CEO and President Paul Kruse said that about 1,450 full-time and part-time employees will be laid off and about 1,400 others will be furloughed. Those being laid off comprise about 37 percent of Blue Bell’s total of 3,900 employees. Those workers considered “essential to ongoing operations and cleaning and repair efforts” will not be laid off or furloughed but will have their pay reduced, he added.

Paul Kruse

Blue Bell Creameries President and CEO Paul Kruse.

“The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell’s CEO and president,” Kruse said. “At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally.”

In addition, he said, the company will suspend and lay off employees at distribution centers in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Kansas City and Wichita, KS; Louisville, KY; Albuquerque, NM; Las Vegas, NV; Raleigh and Charlotte, NC; Columbia, SC, and Richmond, VA.

Kruse didn’t give an effective date for the layoffs, furloughs and pay reductions. However, a Las Vegas TV report noted that a Blue Bell distribution facility in North Las Vegas that had employed 14 people was closed as of Friday.

Kruse said company executives would be asking area chambers of commerce to help laid-off employees and that business owners with available jobs were being encouraged to contact Blue Bell at (979) 830-9831 or by email.

No specific date has yet been announced for when Blue Bell ice cream or its other frozen dessert products will return to the marketplace. Kruse signed agreements on Thursday with state health departments in Texas and Oklahoma detailing how food safety operations will proceed at the company’s plants in Brenham, TX, and Broken Arrow, OK, before production and distribution start up again. A third agreement relating to the Blue Bell plant in Sylacauga, AL, was also said to be in the works.

On Friday, Kruse said that when production resumes, “it will be limited and phased in over time.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Blue Bell products have been linked to 10 cases of listeriosis in four states, including three deaths. At this time, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell brand products, and that institutions and retailers do not serve or sell them.

The company said April 3 that it had suspended operations at the Broken Arrow plant after state and federal authorities said Listeria monocytogenes had been found in a single-serving chocolate ice cream cup made there. The Brenham facility has been temporarily shut down since late April after Listeria was discovered in some ice cream products from its production lines.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors recently reported numerous violations at Blue Bell’s facilities in Brenham, Broken Arrow, and in Sylacauga. Kruse has indicated that company officials will respond to each of those inspection reports in detail.

© Food Safety News
  • Kelly Blevins

    Good,,, maybe they will close down all together,,, Dairy cows live a miserable life then after making these maggots millions are sent to slaughter,,,

    • Gary

      So it was good three people died and over a thousand people will not have work? I think you place cows in a little bit too high regard as compared to your fellow man.

      • Kelly Blevins

        Maybe so if my fellow man is not capable of feeling empathy or having compassion for other living beings. Milk is now linked to breast cancer as well as many other cancers,, cheese is a prime carcinogen,, but yet most people are blind to the lies spewed by the dairy industry,, We all know how much the dairy industry spends fighting bad publicity but when an oncologist tells you what has had a huge influence in your cancer then I choose not to consume something that millions of dollars are spent on to make me think I need it.. Cows milk is for baby cows,, when will humans ever learn..

        • You are everything that screws it up for us in the animal welfare movement.

          You disregard human tragedies, you spread misinformation, you convince people that those who care about animals are cold-hearted, dim-witted flakes.

          Then we can’t get the laws we need, and the animals can’t get the protection they need.

          There is nothing good about what happened with Blue Bell: not the people who got sick, or the people who now have to scramble to find work and care for their families. And since this is the only way to reach you, those now unemployed worker families could also include a cat or dog. Or two.

          You know something? You and Blue Bell’s management have something in common: neither of you give a damn about people.

          • Christy

            Shelly, first of all, I must add, your comments seem to be lacking clarity and based on a personal vengeance. Perhaps you have some personal history with Mr Blevins? You know what the basis of all human and animal tragedy is? It is the fact that most of the advocates you reference here all have a dirty little piece of themselves they need to quench in their “plight”…. you see, charity in its raw form is rarely existent in truth… most folks are in it for personal gain, be it glory and ego or money, and those “special” folks who wind up finding a way to get both (kinda like those kill brokers programs) … speaking of those KB programs, they are a great way to illustrate this reality, as both the brokers and their followers reak of this berevity. You want to know the truth, I confronted these types of places, they do not dispute they could save tens of times more horses if they only saved them BEFORE they got in the Kbs hands , but they all say the same thing, “I will have a pasture full of horses no one wants as folks only want the ones in the KB hands” …so ya, it is an advocacy issue… morality screwed up on all sides frankly, so they all lay in bed together as it generally ends up, like attracts like. Sorry to be blunt, but i have done this a long time lol, and truth is best in the end.
            But until the advocates who pump the cash flow into this mess stop needing the glory and ego fill of “I saved a KB horse” and are happy to save a horse before it is in trouble that deep and do without the very public “oh so and so, you are so awesome, you saved a life straight from the bowels of death, what would the world be without you!” and so on , nothing will change and this sick slaughter market will thrive. This sickness is prevalent in all “advocacy circles “. In this way, folks actually perpetuate the causes they claim to fight against. It is not Mr Blevins who is to blame for the fact that a “we can not get the laws we need, and the animals can’t get the protection they need”, it is actually those who use their need for “superstardom” at the expense and suffrage of others. It is THEY who are the reason folks get tired of hearing all the blow hard noise while never finding a real solution come from it. Now any person on this page who claims to be an advocate of life of any kind who does not see the endless suffering and malease that comes with factory farming, not only on the animals suffrage but also the cost to human well being (hello, it is blatantly obvious here!) is only fooling them selves in the end. BTW, ma’am, there are far more “charitable orgs” that care about people than animals, so get off your high horse in trying to demean Mr Blevins for choosing to be a more active voice for the under represented and under valued in society. After all, they are the ones who need a voice the most, as their plights alone can not be heard with out the voices of people like Kelly.

          • I disagree with someone, and then you make an assumption I must have a personal agenda (perhaps a personal dislike of the individual). Well, that undermines your argument, right from the start.

            And then the rest of your comment is a bunch of strung together sentences, the whole forming this vast incoherent mishmash of something—I just can’t tell what. I do know it has nothing to do with the topic of this article.

          • Christy

            Perhaps I “assume you have a personal agenda” because of your track record against animal rights groups… Does Amimals Angels ring a bell? I could go on with more, but do I really have to?
            And if you cannot put together the 2 concepts it is because it does not fit your “narrative”, not because they do not connect…

          • Kelly Blevins

            Amen !!

          • Animal Angels…the only horse organization I’ve had an issue with is one that keeps taking credit for other organization’s work. And one associated with some whacko oil company heiress who believe she’s the reason Congress opposes horse slaughter.

            I have no patience for idiots, they make the fight for animals that much more difficult.

        • Gary

          I see you choose the information you want to see as well. First, you were for the animals and now you are spewing other “facts” that milk and cheese are carcinogens. Just an FYI…anything and everything can be “linked” to cancer depending on the study, even water and air. This does not mean they cause cancer; there is quite the difference.

    • ScienceSoma

      Would the dairy cows exist to begin with if we did not use them for their milk? Do you think they would have just been born either way and the options are a natural lifespan of grazing or used for human consumption?

      • Kelly Blevins

        I dont know why I am even going to bother with replying as you are obviously oblivious to the fact that humans are not the only living being on this planet that feels pain, sadness, joy.fear. I grew up on a farm and those animals was treated with great respect and kindness, regardless of the end result. Never beaten, abused, nor was they bred repetitively and their new born dragged away the minute it hit the ground. You not dealing with someone who is ignorant to the horror these animals endure on a daily basis. Tail bobbing and cuttinpg horns with out any thing to comfort the pain is just barbaric,, anyone condoning these things is a far cry less than human. Normal life span of dairy cows can be up to 20 years. But in the filthy, abusive conditions and being bred constantly as well as given an abundance of ractopamine they are lucky to make it to the age of 4,,, broke down with massive milk sacs due to infection and puss,, many can barely walk to the kill box at the slaughter plant,,, instead they are picked up with loaders and wheel to their death,, The natural process of life has been so disfigured by The Dept. of Ag in order to try and fill their greedy pockets that the process will eventually bite them in rear. I find it most amusing our government is trying to force Taiwan to by pork knowing the reason is the same as 160 other nation who have banned U.S. Meats,, rBGH, zilpaterol hydrochloride, and ractopamine are not only in the food animals but has also be found in the carcasses of slaughter horses which we know have not been fed anything more than hay and corn husk for close to 2 weeks,,, traces of those drugs still remain in the meat. So much for the one day withdraw period the Dept. of Ag claims exist,, The bottom line,, If you cannot do it humanely and dont have empathy or compassion you are nothing more than a shell,,, empty and cold. The who;e animal industry in this country is full of abuse and horror. Not isolated incidences but business as normal and everyday those who have no conscious continue to push for legislation to keep their horror shows hidden,,, Sorry I just find it repulsive.

  • Aggie

    “Doing the right thing is at the core of the business philosophy at Blue Bell Creameries . . .”
    http://maysbusiness.tamu.edu/index.php/kruse-and-blue-bell-to-fund-chair-in-business/
    Science versus biz-ness

  • GodBlessTexas

    I’d pay $20 for a gallon of Blue Bell! Please bring it back!