The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry has ordered a thorough inspection of all toys and other products imported to Israel and released for marketing without the Standards Institute's stamp of approval.
But the ministry is evidently also not too worried about the claim that at least 1,000 household items received marketing approval without actually having been sampled and tested. That happened because of the actions of a single SII employee, whose motives are not part of the ministry's probe.
An internal report at the SII revealed that the employee responsible for sampling incoming shipments, and sending the samples for testing at the institute's laboratories, had neglected to do so for more than 1,000 toys and ceramic products. Some are in stores and some are still in storage by the importers.
The ministry said the matter had been brought to its attention last week, and said it would take action based on the outcome of its inspection.
"At this stage it seems that most of the products remained in storage and were not distributed to the market," the ministry stated.
The SII is supposed to sample imported goods. Because of the high cost of storage at Ashdod Port, importers are permitted to move goods to their own storage facilities - but not to start distributing and selling them before the institute does its job.
If uninspected products do nonetheless find their way to market, the ministry steps in, carries out a belated inspection and, if they fail, it requires the recall of the offending product. This is an administrative process involving no penalty to the importer. Its biggest advantage is speed of response.
The ministry has the option of handing over its findings to the prosecution, and cases like that end in fines. That is a rather bigger deterrent than no penalty at all, but the criminal process is a matter of years.
It turns out that the errant institute worker who neglected to sample the goods listed them as having been inspected, even though they never made it to the laboratory. Not only he but his supervisor and a secretary working with them are being placed in new positions at the institute. None have been fired.
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