Strauss Group, one of Israel's largest food manufacturers, announced on Monday a major recall of its Elite chocolate brand after a routine inspection at its plant in northern Israel found traces of salmonella.
The company recalled products made after February 20, making it the largest product recall in Israel's history. The move is expected to serve a massive financial blow to the country's top chocolate maker.
The food giant's products will be taken off the shelves and stocks stored at its factory will be destroyed. The facility will also halt operations until the source of the bacterium — which can cause intestinal disease — is found and removed, which is expected to take at least a few days.
Strauss Group will also hand out vouchers as compensation to customers who have purchased the contaminated goods.
The extensive withdrawal of the products of the second-largest food manufacturer in Israel is likely to lead to shortages on supermarket shelves for several days and harm the company's image.
Strauss was aware there may have been salmonella contamination in its products as early as last Wednesday, but lab test results confirmed the concerns only Sunday afternoon.
However, the company issued an announcement to consumers only on Monday morning which led to the launching of a $3.1 million class action against it.
Strauss Group explained the delay occurred due to the need to test and compile a list of all products affected by the contamination. Strauss disclosed the discovery of the bacterium in a regulatory filing, sending its stock nosediving 3%.
Thus far, there are no known reports of customers contacting the virus after consuming any of the chocolate brand's products.