YERUSHALAYIM — The Health Ministry announced on Sunday that the Strauss Group Elite factory was authorized to gradually resume its activities after a salmonella outbreak.
The decision was made after a health and technological audit had been carried out. The ministry said audits would continue until the factory is cleared to fully resume operations.
The authorization was given after all the measures requested from the manufacturer had been implemented, including a thorough cleaning of the equipment and ensuring that the production lines met the new standards.
After the audit, the ministry’s inspectors approved a return to production of the brand’s wafers both with and without gluten.
The Health Ministry launched a health and technological audit on April 26, following traces of salmonella found in the factory and a recall of the brand’s products. During the audit, significant shortcomings were revealed, leading the ministry to suspend the company’s production license for a period of three months, or until all the shortcomings have been corrected.
Salmonella was apparently introduced by pigeons entering the factory through holes in the roof. The Israeli food giant has been forced to remove millions of chocolate bars, cereal bars and cookies from supermarket shelves across the country.
Meanwhile, consumers have turned to other brands of chocolate products, both imported and locally produced, and Strauss-Elite – in a situation of near monopoly and long considered the “king of Israeli chocolate” – has suffered huge financial and stock market losses.
Along with the brand’s upgraded environmental sampling, prepared product and raw material control systems, each batch will now be checked before it leaves the factory, the ministry said. Extensive sanitary improvements have been made, including waterproofing of roofs, thorough cleaning, replacement of some equipment, replacement of floors and sealing of cracks.