The Ministry of Health is currently weighing the merits of taking legal action against Unilever Israel and of revoking its manufacturing license, after 240 cereal boxes of its Telma cornflakes brand were discovered to have been contaminated with salmonella and to have reached store shelves.
“We are considering removing the license on the production line,” said Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) on Friday. “Unilever has failed in its conduct and lied to the public and the Ministry of Health. We view that with severity.”
Litzman’s charge that Unilever Israel “lied to the public and the Ministry of Health” was an apparent response to the company’s admission to having sent 240 contaminated cereal boxes to supermarkets around the country.
Unilever Israel CEO Anat Gabriel issued a public apology on Thursday night. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart for the recent events,” she said. “We apologize that we mistakenly announced that no product from the tainted line had reached the market.”
Unilever Israel also released a contamination notice to consumers that read: “Consumers who have in their possession a product on the above list are asked to not consume it and to contact Unilever’s consumer service desk, telephone 1-800-780-780, to obtain a replacement product and have the product in your possession collected.”
The “above list” referred to 240 750-gram packets of Telma brand cornflakes with kosher certification from the Eidah Hachareidit organization and a production date of June 27, 2016. The notice asked consumers to take a precautionary measure by avoiding several brands, in particular, such as Cornflakes of Champions cereal (Alufim) purchased on June 26 and 27; Eidah Hachareidis kosher-certified Cornflakes purchased on June 23, June 27, 28 and 29; and Cocoman Tzedafim (Shells) cereal purchased on June 29 and 30.
Health Ministry’ Director of Public Health Services Professor Itamar Grotto arrived with a team on Sunday morning at Unilever Israel’s Telma factory in Arad to inspect the production lines in which 240 cereal boxes became contaminated with salmonella.
“The aim is to ensure public health and to make sure that everything is produced correctly at the factory and that there are no abnormalities or infections,” explained Grotto.