There are so far 21 cases of suspected salmonella infections from the Strauss Group Ltd. (TASE:STRS) Elite factory in Nof Hagalil. The connection between the cases and Strauss has not yet been confirmed, although samples have been taken from 16 of the patients and results will be received in the coming few days. Six of the suspected salmonella patients required hospitalization.
Even if the patients are diagnosed with salmonella, it will not be 100% certain that they were infected after consuming Elite chocolate, as there are anyway other cases of the illness in Israel, although if there are samples of Elite chocolate in the patients homes, these can be tested.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Health has published a series of flaws in the way the Elite Nof Hagalil factory has been operated and which likely led to the introduction of salmonella. One customer had already reported that there was possibly salmonella in their Elite chocolate but no tests were conducted by the factory following the complaint. Pigeons had entered the factory several months ago and could have been the source of the contamination. Among other things, the Ministry of Health found that the factory's quality control team had undergone changes over the past year and there was temporarily no food safety manager at the factory.
Strauss Group has 14 days to respond to the Ministry of Health's report. Meanwhile the Ministry of Health has suspended the factory's quality standard for three months, meaning that it will not be allowed to manufacture products.
Most significantly, salmonella contamination seems to be widespread within the factory with 30 samples positive for salmonella out of 300 taken.
The affair had led to one of the biggest product recalls, which has ever taken place in Israel encompassing all products of the factory affected: Elite chocolate, Elite cakes, Elite waffles, Energy snack bars, Energy chocolate covered rice crackers, chewing gum and soft sweets, with all expiry dates.
Strauss Group's share price has fallen 8% since the affair began last week and is down 18% since the start of February. The sharep price has recovered somewhat and rose 1.68% today, giving a market cap of NIS 10.5 billion.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 1, 2022.
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