A report from Calcalist alleges that the company has known about the contamination since last week, yet only reported on it today.
A routine test at the Strauss Group’s Elite chocolate factory has led to the recall of numerous products after several samples of salmonella were discovered in the factory’s production line on Monday morning.
In a public announcement on Monday morning, the company stated that “a number of samples containing salmonella were discovered in the factory’s production line and in the chocolate used as a raw material to create products,” adding that the food service department at the Health Ministry was immediately notified.
As a precautionary measure and out of a concern regarding the integrity of the products, Strauss has decided, in cooperation with the Health Ministry, to recall any products from specific batches that could contain the contaminated ingredients.
Items included in product recall
- Chocolate bars (Cow, Blondie, and Splendid brand) with a best before date between 01.10.22-24.04.23
- Pesek Zman, Memolada and Crunch chocolate snack bars with a best before date between 01.12.22 – 01.04.23
- Taami, Egozi, and Kif Kef chocolate bars with a best before date between 01.07.22 – 15.01.23
- “Energy” chocolate coated rice cakes and chocolate cereal bars with a best before date between 01.07.22 – 15.01.23
- Reva L’Sheva snack bars with a best before date between 01.05.22 – 15.12.23
- Brownie cake, Pesek Zman cake and rolls with a best before date between 10.07.22 – 31.08.22
- Chocolate “XL” wafers with a best before date between 15.11.22 – 01.01.23
- “Bonbonierre” selection boxes dated best before 9.4.23 and 21.2.23 only.
The company asked the public not to consume these products if they had already been purchased and stated that consumers who have purchased the products and must now dispose of them can receive a compensation voucher in return.
They stressed that from the moment the contaminant was discovered, the production of the various chocolate products was halted and all scheduled distribution of the products was stopped.
The company has said that they are “carrying out extensive operations in order to locate the source of the problem,” and that production and distribution will resume once all production lines are deemed safe.
Despite Strauss Group’s reassurance that production was stopped immediately upon discovery of the contaminant, an article published in Calcalist on Monday morning suggested that in actuality, Strauss/Elite first discovered the possibility of salmonella contaminants in the production facility as early as last week. However, they chose not to publicize the information until Monday morning after receiving confirmation that the contaminant was also present in the finished chocolate products.
Technically speaking, Strauss did operate according to the procedures and reported the contamination in finished products within 24 hours of receiving confirmation. However, this decision is controversial because many feel it should have been reported as soon as the contaminant was found in the factory, given the severe health damage that salmonella can cause.
The Jerusalem Post has reached out to Strauss Group for comment on the validity of this report but has yet to receive a response.
Impact on Strauss and Israeli consumers
As a result of the news that multiple products contained possible contaminants, Strauss Group’s shares crashed on the stock exchange, dropping by 2.83% compared to a day earlier. Strauss controls over 50% of Israel’s chocolate industry, and the damage the company will face as a result is estimated to be tens of millions of shekel.
Responding to this news, Strauss has said that they are aware that this incident may have a significant impact on the company’s profitability for 2022.
The immediate impact the news has had on the public is evident, with many taking to social media to inquire about the effects of salmonella and if there was any way to determine whether or not the chocolate they had just recently eaten could have been contaminated.
“I ate Elite chocolate just yesterday. How much longer do I have to live?” quipped Army Radio reporter Itai Zilber on Twitter.
Speaking to Walla News, consumers expressed concerns regarding the situation and how it had been allowed to happen.
“It’s scary that it happened, the quality control was not strict enough,” one consumer stated.
“I eat a lot of these products and it’s scary to think I might have eaten a contaminated item,” another was reported as saying.
Meanwhile, multiple complaints on social media state that they have been unable to reach Strauss’ customer service line for more information, or that they have failed to receive a response when attempting to receive a refund voucher for products that have been recalled.