Health Ministry Closes Strauss Factory after Salmonella Recall

On Thursday, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, Nachman Ash announced that they were shutting down the Elite factory of Strauss Group in Nof Hagalil for three months. The company was forced to recall a massive number of products throughout the country because of salmonella contamination, which will now be investigated. Ash stated that the company will not be able to manufacture or market any products until they recertify the factory as safe. He toured the factory with other health officials and workers. According to Ash, officials of the Health Ministry were looking for ‘possible flaws’ that could have resulted in the production line problems.

He stated that the investigation would continue and they had to follow a process to make the factory fit once more. Ash stated that they would restore the certificate of quality of the factory after all procedures have been completed and lessons learnt and they can be certain that there is no more contamination or possibility of it in the future. Ofra Strauss, the chairperson of the Strauss Group, comments for the first time after the recall. She apologized for what had happened and another official indicated that the presence of pigeons could have led to the contamination.

Speaking with other company officials at a press conference, she apologized for disappointing the people and for causing distress. She added that they had never had to face something like this and it was the company’s biggest recall in its history. Strauss said that she had been part of the decision-making process in the last week and they had been working hard. The massive recall had first been announced on Monday by the company. It called on stores to stop selling a range of snack products and chocolate and people to stop buying them due to concerns about salmonella contamination.

The recall was expanded on Tuesday and Wednesday to include more products, after suspected bacteria was discovered in ongoing lab tests. Eyal Dror, the chief executive, disclosed that some additional deficiencies had been identified at the Nof Hagalil factory. He said that officials had discovered there were pigeons at the factory, which could have contributed to the contamination. However, the CEO stated that they could not confirm if this was directly related to the products that were contaminated. He also said that the factory had undergone renovations before the first discovery and they hadn’t gone as per procedures, which could have had an impact.

He admitted that they had found pigeons, which wasn’t supposed to happen. Three people have been admitted to hospitals due to salmonella poisoning recently, but there is no confirmation if they have been affected by Strauss products. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said that most people with salmonella recover in a couple of days without any such complications, those who are immunocompromised or the elderly should be cautious. There has been some criticism against Strauss for notifying the public after a week of the salmonella test results, but the Health Ministry stated that all relevant guidelines had been followed. 

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