Israel's Top Chocolate Maker Knew About Salmonella Outbreak a Week Before Major Recall

Strauss found salmonella in raw chocolate used for some of the company's products on the eve of Passover and notified the Israeli Health Ministry, but waited almost a week before alerting the public

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"Shokolad Para": One of the most famous chocolate brands in Israel - now recalled
"Shokolad Para": One of the most famous chocolate brands in Israel - now recalledCredit: Tomer Appelbaum

Strauss, one of Israel's largest food manufacturers, knew about the salmonella outbreak for almost a week before it issued a recall for the majority of its chocolate snacks on Monday.

TheMarker found that Strauss received initial test results of salmonella contamination during Passover, almost a week ago. After the results were received, the company had begun testing its final products, and learned that some may contain salmonella on Sunday.

The products being recalled belonging to its “Elite” line of chocolate snacks include the popular Shokolad Para, Pesek Zman, Egozi and Kif Kef candy bars, Energy chocolate-coated crackers, and Bonbonniere candy boxes, among others. Strauss announced that the production of the various chocolate products in the factory was immediately halted and products manufactured in the vicinity of the discovery of salmonella were blocked from distribution.

>> See full list of withdrawn products below

The Health Ministry was notified about the issue on the eve of Passover – but the products were only recalled on Monday.

Strauss stated that both the raw chocolate and the final products in which salmonella was found are "blocked" – meaning still at the production factory in the Galilee or at the logistics center. The company doesn't know how many, or if any, contaminated products were sold to customers.

Strauss added it didn't recall the products before making sure that there might be a problem with them, and acted responsibly by conducting the largest recall the company had ever initiated. The company said it worked in coordination with the Health Ministry.

The company stated that it had notified the Health Ministry and called on the public not to consume the affected products, leading to a two point drop in its price on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Strauss said that "the company apologizes to its customers."

Earlier this month, Israel joined the recall of Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs issued by the British Food Standards Agency out of a fear they were also contaminated with salmonella.

The candy is made by Italian confectionary group Ferrero.

Ferrero’s official Israeli distributor, Premium Confectionary and Trading, announced it would voluntarily take back a number of Kinder products produced in its factory in Belgium, Israel’s Health Ministry said Wednesday.

The well-known Italian candy's Israeli distributor, Premium Confectionary and Trading, announced it would voluntarily take back a number of Kinder products produced in its factory in Belgium in response.

When the salmonella bacterium invades the intestines, it causes the disease salmonellosis. Symptoms of the illness include diarrhea along with stomach pain, cramping, a high fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and sometimes joint pain and difficulty urinating. The symptoms surface between six and 72 hours of exposure to the bacterium and the disease generally lasts from two days to a week.

There are more than 2,300 strains of salmonella and at least 10 percent of them cause disease in humans. Several of the strains are considered virulent and can cause serious and possibly life-threatening illness, but they are mainly prevalent in developing countries. Salmonella is a bacterium that must be report to health authorities in Israel and its presence in humans as well as animals is monitored by the Health Ministry.

The list of products removed from the shelves:

■ Para, Blondie, Splendid with the dates October 10, 2022 to April 24, 2023

■ Pesek Zman, Memulada, Para Crunch, Ad Chatzot and Mini Adashim with the dates December 1, 2022 to April 1, 2023

■ Ta'ami, Egozi, Kif Kef, Energy chocolate bars with the dates July 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023

■ Reva Lesheva with the dates May 1, 2022 to December 15, 2023

■ Brownies and Pesek Zman cakes with the dates July 10, 2022 to August 31, 2022

■ XL Chocolate Waffle with the dates November 15, 2022 to January 1, 2023

■ Ichulim Metukim gift basket from February 21, 2023 and on and April 9, 2023 and on

■ Milkey Top Adashim from April 26, 2022 and on, May 3, 2022 and on, May 11, 2022 and on, May 12, 2022 and on and May 16, 2022 and on

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