Israel’s Health Ministry issued a report following its audit of the Strauss factory last week following the salmonella finding and the largest recall in Israeli history.
About 30 out of 300 samples taken so far from the factory’s production line, raw material, in-process products, and final products tested positive for salmonella. As of Sunday morning, there have been 21 reported incidents of salmonella tied to Strauss products, six of whom were hospitalized, a number that fortunately does not indicate a widespread outbreak.
The audit uncovered significant failures in the company’s procedures and behavior. The following are the main findings of the audit:
- Construction was carried out at the site in recent months without halting the production process and without regard to the potential risks that could affect the production process and quality control of the plant.
- Pigeons had infiltrated the plant several weeks prior to the audit, and although the infiltration was addressed immediately and an exterminator was called, officials failed to carry out comprehensive tests to evaluate whether the infiltration affected the safety of the products.
- The factory’s professional quality control team had been replaced in the past year but the position of the food safety manager was unfilled for the last several months, leading to a serious lapse in the plant’s supervision.
- A customer had reported to the plant that salmonella indicators in the liquid chocolate were higher than indicated by the permitted standard. The complaint was not addressed and no tests were performed for possible salmonella contamination.
- A fundamental failure was found in the thawing process of the chocolate milk fat. It was not being carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions for thawing and storage, which put it at risk of contamination.
The Health Ministry submitted a full investigative report to Strauss the day after the audit. The plant is expected to respond to the report’s findings within 14 days.
According to the results of the tests carried out so far, any connection between the finding of salmonella in Belgium in Kinder chocolate products and the incident at Strauss has been ruled out.
As a testament to Strauss’ monopoly on the Israeli snack market, see the photo below of a vending machine in a hospital following the recall:
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)