Consumers who have been missing Strauss-Elite sweets will be somewhat relieved. Some four months after salmonella bacteria were discovered in some of the company’s products, Israel’s premier chocolate maker is gearing up to resume candy-making.
The Health Ministry announced on Sunday that after a sanitary and technological audit, which was carried out at the Strauss Elite plant, the plant will be allowed to gradually return to activity. The ministry said it will continue the audits until the plant can be allowed to return to full operation.
After the audit, ministry inspectors approved a return to production of regular and gluten-free waffles. The approval was given after all the actions demanded of the factory had been implemented, including the thorough cleaning of equipment and inspectors being satisfied that production lines met the new standards.
Health Ministry recalling Strauss-Elite sweets
On April 26, the ministry performed a sanitary and technological audit following positive findings for salmonella and a broad recall notice that was reported to the public on April 25. Pigeons apparently entered the factory through holes in the roof.
In the audit, substantial deficiencies were found, and as a result, food service professionals decided to suspend the company’s production permit for a period of three months or until all the deficiencies found in the audit were corrected.
The huge company was forced to remove millions of chocolate bars, cereal bars, cakes and puddings from shelves throughout the country.
In the meantime, consumers switched to other chocolate brands, both imported and locally made, and Strauss-Elite – long regarded as the “king of Israeli chocolate” and a near-monopoly – suffered huge financial and stock market losses.
The question is whether consumers have gotten used to other brands and will return to Strauss-Elite products or stay where they are.
After the closure, environmental sampling systems, monitoring of finished products and raw materials were upgraded. The factory will now check every batch before it leaves the factory, the ministry said. Extensive sanitary improvements were made, including sealing roofs, deep cleaning, replacement of some equipment, replacement of floors and sealing of cracks.
A reexamination and changes in the organizational structure were carried out. The manufacturer’s responsibility was extended by expanding the team ensuring quality, including controllers for the candy factory as well as more space for melting chocolate. Dress codes were also changed. The ministry said it will allow a return to regular production in phases, as the company proves it has implemented all required changes.