A New, Big Problem for the Little Creamery in Brenham

September 22, 2016

Barely a year after the listeria outbreak at Blue Bell Creameries that caused three fatalities, the company is again dealing with product contamination. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are issuing a voluntary recall on two ice cream flavors,” announced Blue Bell on Twitter and in a news release published on its website.

To its credit, the company is moving more quickly than in 2015 and appears to be more transparent about the nature and the cause of the contamination. Also encouraging is the fact that the listeria was detected by heightened safety precautions introduced by Blue Bell in the past year. 

In my experience, great brands are held to a higher standard because people are emotionally invested in them. That will set a very high bar for Blue Bell’s response to this development. 

A few observations: The language in the Blue Bell release is dry and legalistic. The company is clearly placing blame on a third-party supplier of the cookie dough in the two suspect products. And the announcement lacks both an apology and a human touch. No spokesperson or any corporate leader is named or quoted. That tone seems inconsistent with Blue Bell’s folksy, small-town brand identity. 

I would encourage Blue Bell to be transparent and convey exactly what it is doing to solve the problem and prevent it from happening again. Of course, this is a challenge while it is still under regulatory scrutiny for its missteps of 2015. 

Let’s hope Blue Bell puts its experience of the past year to work in effectively handling the new recall. A lot of loyal customers will be watching. 

Let’s hope Blue Bell puts its experience of the past year to work.

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Great brands, like Blue Bell, are held to a higher standard, and have to respond to crisis accordingly

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