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Three former Remedia company officials were charged yesterday with two counts of causing death by negligence and 23 counts of causing injury by negligence, four and a half years after two babies died and 23 sustained injuries after being fed a non-dairy baby formula marketed by Remedia. Five Health Ministry officials were indicted on charges of acting in a way that might spread disease.

The indictment accuses the company officials - former food technologist Frederick Black, former CEO Gideon Landsberger, and former owner Moshe Miller - of "completely and blindly relying" on the formula manufacturer. According to the charge sheet, Remedia realized in 2001 that there were differences between the amount of vitamins in the formula and the amount stated on the packaging.

The German manufacturing firm Humana decided in late 2002 to stop including Vitamin B1 (thiamin), which is necessary for infant development, in the non-dairy formula. Humana informed Remedia of its decision in 2003, but Remedia failed to inform the public, and its packages did not reflect the actual vitamin content. Landsberger is accused of deciding to falsely declare that the revised formula being imported was actually the old product, which included the thiamin.

Some of the babies who were fed the formula sustained serious brain injury and paralysis.

Dr. Dorit Nitzan, then head of the Heath Ministry's food and nutrition service, was charged with acting in a way that might spread disease. The other four ministry officials who were indicted yesterday are ministry inspectors at the quarantine stations at the Ashdod and Haifa ports, who were supposed to inspect food imports. Nitzan is accused of failing to ascertain that the inspectors were carrying out the necessary procedures.