Strauss Group has been given permission to restart a factory in Israel that was shut months because of Salmonella findings.
The confectionery manufacturing site in Nof Hagalil will gradually return to production following a thorough clean-up of the plant and investments in infrastructure.
Food inspectors from the Israeli Ministry of Health allowed the resumption of operations after an audit. Agency officials will continue inspections of the plant as part of the return to full production. Strauss Group said this ramp up may take several months.
Approval was suspended in April after a recall of Elite brand products and link to an outbreak prompted an audit which found a number of issues at the factory including Salmonella on a production line and in the liquid chocolate used to make finished products. Elite products were recalled from United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Europe and the United Kingdom.
Recent figures from Strauss Group’s financial results for the first half and second quarter of 2022 show the incident had a major impact on profit.
Range of improvements
The environmental, finished product and raw material sampling programs have been upgraded so each batch will now be inspected before leaving the factory.
Infrastructure improvements include repairs to the roof, cleaning of production lines, replacement of equipment and new floors. The quality team has been expanded with adjustments to quality control and assurance processes.
The first products to be manufactured are the wafer and Baflot brands. These items will be back on the shelves within the next few weeks. Elite’s other brands are expected to return to market over time.
Outsourced production at facilities in Israel and in other countries has been stepped up to permit the earlier supply of some products. Dark Parra and Splendid chocolate brands are currently being made at factories in France and Belgium that specialize in chocolate.
In August, Strauss established an independent committee that will examine the Salmonella incident, discuss courses of action and make recommendations to the company’s board of directors.
Eyal Dror, Strauss Israel CEO, said: “We have refurbished the two Elite plants in Nof Hagalil and are resuming production after reinforcing and augmenting management and quality control and assurance processes to ensure that all products are safe for consumption.
“I would like to thank the hundreds of people who were involved in the work to restore operations at the plants. In the next few weeks, we will be focusing on the gradual operation of production lines under tight control, and once we have built up enough inventory, we will begin marketing the products.”
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)