Blue Bell ice cream returns to stores in La., Miss.

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Blue Bell ice cream is back in stores in Louisiana and Mississippi, eight months after listeria contamination halted sales and prompted cleanup of production plants.

Blue Bell was linked to 10 listeria cases, including three deaths in Kansas. Listeria bacteria can cause serious illness, especially in older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

On Monday, the company was delivering its ice cream to stores across Louisiana. In Mississippi, the company says it was delivering ice cream to stores in and around Jackson, the capital.

The Texas-based company is reintroducing its products back into its markets in phases.

As products return to stores, the company says it has brought back workers who were put on paid furlough. The company says it has brought back about 1,000 workers.

"Our personnel will be in stores throughout the week filling freezers and restocking as needed," Ricky Dickson, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement.

Dickson said the company's three manufacturing plants are increasing production. He thanked customers for their "great patience and understanding" during the period of halted sales.

Five flavors are being produced for now: Buttered Pecan, Cookies 'n Cream, Dutch Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla and The Great Divide, which is half Dutch Chocolate and half Homemade Vanilla.

The Brenham, Texas-based company recalled all of its products in April.

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