Blue Bell, the popular Texas-based ice cream company that encountered a massive shutdown over listeria contamination, plans to return to full distribution in the Carolinas, starting Sept. 12 in Charlotte.
The privately owned company, based in Brenham, Texas, shut down all of its plants in 2015 after it was discovered that 10 illnesses and 3 deaths were associated with listeria contamination from its products. After repeated testing, the source of the contamination was eventually blamed on a drain in a plant in Oklahoma that contaminated equipment and spread the bacteria to other facilities.
The company has slowly returned to the market in limited areas. Despite the contamination, fervent fans of the ice cream have been trying to get popular flavors like Banana Pudding and Butter Pecan, once called one of the best ice creams in America by the late New York Times writer R.W. Apple Jr.
Although the brand returned to the western side of North and South Carolina in January, it hasn’t be available statewide. The company announced Wednesday that it will reopen distribution facilities in Charlotte, Columbia and Raleigh in September.
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Distribution will start Sept. 12 in the Charlotte area, including Boone, Greensboro, HIckory, High Point, Huntersville, Lenoir, Salisbury, Statesville and Winston-Salem. It also will start that day in South Carolina, including Columbia, Charleston, Aiken, Florence, Myrtle Beach, Orangeburg, Rock Hill and Sumter.
A week later, on Sept. 19, distribution will begin again in the Raleigh area, including Chapel Hill, Durham, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Greenville, Henderson, Lumberton, Rocky Mount, Tarboro, Wake Forest and Wilson.
For details on finding the ice cream, go to www.bluebell.com/locator.