PHOENIX — Blue Bell Creameries will shut down production in Arizona and several other locations in an effort to cut costs after a listeria outbreak.
There are two distribution centers in Phoenix and one in Tucson. More than 100 will lose their jobs.
It's a sad day for Blue Bell. To ensure that we can come back in the future, we have made the agonizing decision to reduce our work force.
— Blue Bell Ice Cream (@ILoveBlueBell) May 15, 2015
Overall, about 1,400 workers will be laid off and about the same number will be furloughed.
CEO Paul Kruse said in a video message, “We are needing to take this step to ensure a successful return and the possibility of a strong future for Blue Bell Creameries. But it still hurts … a lot.”
Three people have died from listeria-related illnesses after eating Blue Bell products while in a Kansas hospital.
Over a five-year period stating in January 2010, other people became ill, including one case in Arizona. Listeria illnesses were also reported in Oklahoma and Texas.
Stores in Arizona began pulling Blue Bell from their shelves in April.
The Texas-based company voluntarily began recalling products in March. Those products were not sold in retail locations.
But the recall continued to expand.