Nearly 8 months after being pulled from store shelves due to listeria contamination, Blue Bell ice cream will be back in most Texas stores in time for Christmas.

According to Blue Bell Creameries, phase three of its five-phase market re-entry plan will include the majority of Texas, as well as central and southern Alabama.

"We continue to fill stores in phase two but we can now focus our attention on the addition of phase three beginning Dec. 14," said Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell. "This phase includes most of Alabama and Texas and it is our largest phase so far."

As part of the company's re-entry into the rest of Texas (it re-entered north central Texas in October), Blue Bell will bring back 215 employees who were previously put on paid furlough.

Dickson said that Oklahoma's Broken Arrow and Alabama's Sylacauga production facilities have helped the company build their inventory for the past few months. Blue Bell's key Brenham facility is preparing to reopen soon.

The pickings for Blue Bell ice cream lovers, however, are slim. The company is so far only producing five flavors: Buttered Pecan, Cookies ’n Cream, Dutch Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla and The Great Divide. More flavors will be added in the future.

Here's the full list of Texas cities Blue Bell will be returning to starting Dec. 14:

  • Abilene
  • Amarillo
  • Beaumont
  • Big Spring
  • Brownsville
  • Corpus Christi
  • Harlingen
  • Laredo
  • Longview
  • Lubbock
  • Lufkin
  • Midland
  • McAllen
  • Odessa
  • San Antonio
  • Tyler

Blue Bell issued a voluntary recall of all its products in April 2015 following documented listeria cases which originated from its Brenham production facility.

Listeria monocytogenes is the organism which causes Listeriosis infection. Symptoms of this illness include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. The infection primarily affects people with weakened immune systems, older people, pregnant women and newborns. Listeria can be fatal.

Blue Bell's products were linked to listeria cases in Kansas earlier this year. According to the FDA, three of the five people who were diagnosed with listeria infection after consuming Blue Bell products died.

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