Blue Bell, the ice cream maker that recalled all of its products after samples tested positive for the bacteria listeria, announced Friday that it is laying off 36 percent of its workforce of 3,900.
The cuts include suspending operations at a number of the company’s distribution centers, including one in Morrisville and one in Charlotte. Blue Bell didn’t provide specific numbers for each facility, but said that the centers typically employ between 30 and 50 people.
Texas-based Blue Bell is also furloughing about 1,400 employees and reducing the pay of those employees who are essential to ongoing operations and the company’s cleaning and repair efforts.
Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse called the move an “agonizing decision” but said “we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future.”
The company expects supply and distribution of its product will be limited for some time as it deals with the fallout from the tainted ice cream. Blue Bell's ice cream has been linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths.
The process of cleaning and improving Blue Bell’s four production plants will take longer than expected, and there is no timeline for when production will resume, the company said Friday.
When production does resume, it will be phased in over time.