The ingredient was revealed after the company and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), after a week of intense scrutiny over the secrecy surrounding the outbreak. However, the company and CFIA still refuse to reveal the supplier of the contaminated ingredient.
Soy lecithin is an emulsifying agent used to help chocolate flow during the manufacturing process.
Canadian and US food regulations do not require manufacturers or regulators to reveal the source of contamination, or the supplier, if the ingredient was externally sourced.
Although the identity of the supplier remains hidden, it is no secret that Hersheys intend to sue the supplier.
Hershey's spokesperson, Stephanie Morritz told FoodProductionDaily-USA.com that the salmonella was picked up during a routine manufacturing quality check at the company's plant in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
She could not confirm whether prior tests were conducted on receipt of the ingredient or the whether test results conducted by the supplier, before Hershey's took possession, tested positive. Hershey's further refused to divulge at what stage of ingredient manufacture, transportation or use the salmonella contamination occurred.
Hershey's shut down the Smiths Falls plant shut down production and issued a recall of 25 products after a routine inspection inside the plant detected salmonella on 9 November. The CFIA said the plant, in which 500 people work, will remain closed until an investigation has been completed.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Ministry of Health is investigating three reports of illness possibly linked to the products involved in the recall. Hershey is also following up on reports of illness associated with the product codes announced in the recall, but has yet to confirm these.
The decision to publicly announce the risk followed the discovery that some of the product had probably reached retailers.
The proactive move by Hershey's is in stark contrast to Cadbury's decision in January this year to remain silent after discovering that some of it chocolates in the UK were contaminated with salmonella.