Blue Bell did not disclose details of investment

Blue Bell did not disclose details of investment

Blue Bell Creameries, the US ice cream maker trying to rebuild its business after being linked to a fatal listeriosis outbreak, has secured investment from billionaire Sid Bass.

Paul Kruse, Blue Bell's CEO and president, said Bass - estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of US$1.66bn - had "made a significant investment in our company".

"The additional capital will ensure the successful return of our ice cream to the market and our loyal customers," Kruse said. Blue Bell did not provide further details.

Bass added: "We are excited to be a part of the Blue Bell brand and family. Blue Bell is the quality leader in the ice cream industry. We believe quality is the principle attribute that ensures the success, growth and longevity of a business."

Last week, Blue Bell, which shut its sites this spring after a link to the outbreak emerged, said it was set to trial production at one of the facilities.

The company said it would test output at its site in Sylacauga in Alabama "in the next several weeks".

Blue Bell said when production would be on "a limited basis" when it re-starts as it looks to ensure new procedures and training measures introduced since the outbreak. After that trial period, the company will then start to rebuild inventory to return to the market.

Last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the investigation into the outbreak - which was linked to 10 cases of sickness and three deaths - over.

The outbreak led Blue Bell to close three production sites and recall all products from the marketplace. In May, it announced around 1,400 staff would be laid off.

The Alabama site was closed despite listeria being found in ice cream made at sites in Texas and Oklahoma.

Last month, a private lab claimed it had evidence there was listeria in ice cream made at the plant in Alabama.

A man in Florida who had eaten Blue Bell ice cream from a carton that indicated the product was made in Alabama fell ill with meningitis in April, his Seattle-based lawyer Bill Marler told just-food. Marler said a test by Kappa Laboratories showed it tested positive for listeria.

At the time, Blue Bell said it was unable to comment on the claims "because this situation may involve litigation".

In May, Blue Bell said it would lay off 37% of its workforce – around 1,400 employees. At the time, Kruse insisted the move was necessary to ensure the "viability" of Blue Bell in the future.

According to Forbes, Bass and three brothers gained from an inheritance from their oil tycoon uncle Sid Richardson four decades ago. They run oil company Bass Operating.