Houston newspaper goes inside Blue Bell ice cream plant. Not appetizing. | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Houston newspaper goes inside Blue Bell ice cream plant. Not appetizing.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 7:01 AM

click to enlarge INSIDE BLUE BELL: Houston Chronicle paints an unattractive picture.
  • INSIDE BLUE BELL: Houston Chronicle paints an unattractive picture.

The Houston Chronicle has done some strong reporting here
, based on multiple worker accounts, on past conditions in the main Blue Bell ice cream plant. It's not likely to encourage you to dish up a bowl of Blue Bell, trying to recover from a closure prompted by a listeria crisis.

I bring this up because I recall when Blue Bell rolled into Little Rock on its carefully crafted PR strategy of being a little old country creamery in rural Texas, rather than a giant that was gobbling up market share. It expected free publicity as its due and it got it. Every new flavor, it seemed, would prompt some lip-smacking free publicity on TV morning shows or in the pages of the newspaper. Why did it get the hero's treatment and not thousands of other commercial products of equal or higher quality? PR is why.

Just the other day, when Blue Bell went back in business, a Texas TV station did it again — staging a free on-air tasting by their on-air personalities to testify that the little ol' creamery was back and safe to eat.

Maybe they should have read the Houston Chronicle first.

In interviews with the Houston Chronicle, more than a dozen former employees of Blue Bell's flagship Brenham plant described a company fighting to keep up with its growing customer base while sanitation and safety slipped. Cleanup workers regularly ran out of hot water, making machinery susceptible to pathogens and allergens. Reused packaging brought grime into the factory. Equipment went without safeguards for years, and several workers lost parts of one or more fingers.

As far as taste was concerned, I always thought Blue Bell was overrated. I bought Yarnell's.

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