Employees of Blue Bell Creameries Lose Jobs After Listeria Issue

Blue Bell Creameries

 Blue Bell announced that they will launch a complete and targeted clean up mission against the Listeria bacteria. The CEO hopes that this mission ensures better quality of the products.On May 15, it was announced that Blue Bell Creameries would be laying off over a third of its workforce after a listeria issue. Listeria was linked to the company’s ice cream and the product was recalled nationally. Approximately 750 people who work full-time will be losing their jobs and around 700 people who work part-time will lose their jobs as well. The company has a total of 3,900 employees, so this will be a 37 percent cut. The company had to take all of their ice cream products off of the shelves last month due to the risk that contamination had occurred.

Blue Bell Creameries will also have to furlough 1,400 workers but they will still receive a good portion of their typical pay. Some employees, such as clean-up and repair crews, will have to take a pay cut. Distribution workers will also be laid off in several states.

The recall took place in April and the plants in Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma have been closed ever since. The company, which has been in operation for 108 years, had released ice cream that was linked to as many as three deaths in the state of Kansas. The listeria illnesses that were said to be caused from the ice cream caused ten people to be sick in four states and three of them died. The CEO and president, Paul Krause, stated that the situation was horrible and that even though the company hated laying off so many people that he considered to be family members, they had a responsibility to the public and doing what was right.

Blue Bell Creameries is headquartered in Brenham, Texas and the city will feel the effects considering the fact that Blue Bell is the second largest employer in the area. Out of the 900 workers, 250 were expected to be laid off and 300 were supposed to be furloughed. The state officials are prepared for the impact and the problems that may arise.

As many as 30 workers will lose their jobs at the plant in Alabama and 20 will lose their jobs at the plant in Oklahoma. Blue Bell Creameries has distribution centers in ten states and did not give an estimate as to the remainder of layoffs that are in the works. Blue Bell does have its supporters though and 200 people showed up last month alone to show their support.The company has stated that it hopes to be able to restore its employees at some point and repair the damage. The company knows that this will not happen overnight, it will take time.

Every effort is being made to fix the situation and all of the Blue Bell plants have been shut down for clean up and improvement. Blue Bell Creameries signed an agreement with the health department that states what the company plans to do to straighten things out as well as their plan for re-opening. The clean up an improvement process has taken longer than anyone thought it would and there is no timeline for when production will resume.

Blue Bell Creameries is expected to notify the federal and states health departments if and when any product has a test result that is positive for listeria or any other potentially harmful agent. This was written in the agreement that Blue Bell made with the health department. The company had failed to do this in the past so the health department felt the need to use a stricter approach in this regard according to CNN Money.

Blue Bell Creameries had announced its plans for a complete clean up process and its hope of releasing a better quality of products in the future. The company does plan to make ice cream again soon and hopes to one day restore its work force to its previous state. The CEO is saddened by having to lay off so many workers and did not wish for so many people to lose their jobs due to the listeria contamination. He wishes that there had been a different outcome and that the company can recoup after the contamination.

By Heather Granruth

Sources:

Yahoo News: 1,450 Blue Bell workers losing jobs after listeria problems

CNN Money: Blue Bell announces first layoffs in 108 years

Benchmark Reporter: Blue Bell Creameries products got contaminated by Listeria bacteria, 1,450 employees laid off

 

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia- Creative Commons License

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