The Osem group has destroyed thousands of packages of Materna baby formula over concerns that it had been tainted with metal shavings, TheMarker has learned.
Sources at Osem, which owns the Materna brand, said the packages in question were manufactured in April.
Osem issued a statement saying: “In the course of September, several thousand boxes were destroyed as a result of a mechanical problem that occurred on the production line several months ago. Materna puts the quality of its products and the health of babies ahead of everything else, and it was therefore decided in the interest of caution and in coordination with the Health Ministry to destroy the boxes produced before the problem was fixed.”
About two weeks ago, Osem, which is owned by Swiss-based Nestle, was accused of a lack of transparency in connection with a shortage of its Tzabar brand of hummus over suspicions of salmonella contamination in some products in the company’s production line.
Sources in the retailing sector told TheMarker at the time that when the volume of Tzabar products from the manufacturer began to decline, they contacted Osem and were told that the introduction of new machinery was slowing the production process. Only after being contacted by TheMarker did Osem acknowledge that suspected salmonella had been discovered on a production line “following routine quality-control oversight.” The Health Ministry was also alerted immediately, the company said, adding that cleaning the equipment delayed production and led to a shortage of some items.
The Health Ministry now demands immediate notification of any product contamination issues. The change in procedure came after salmonella was discovered in Telma cereals, a brand owned by Unilever. The ministry has informed food testing laboratories that they risk losing their license if they fail to report food contamination.
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