Bacteria Close Knesset Kitchens

The Health Ministry ordered the closure of the Knesset cafeteria kitchen yesterday as the possibility of a Listeria bacteria infection arose in the course of standard hygiene testing. The bacteria were found in two vegetable shipments from an outside source. One of the shipments included cucumbers.

The staff immediately started cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen as well as the two cafeterias, one dairy and the other meat - proper cleaning will kill the bacteria. As a result of the closure, the cafeterias sold pastries and hot and cold beverages instead of the regular menu.

The bacteria were found in the course of regular, weekly food testing conducted in the cafeterias and kitchen. After the preliminary results came up positive for the bacteria, other samples were taken - but the results have not yet been received. The Health Ministry expects the answers this morning. All other tests reflected proper hygiene and no other problems.

The Knesset director general, Avi Balashnikov, and the Knesset doctor, Yitzhak Lifshitz, reported the suspicions immediately to the ministry. On Wednesday a Health Ministry mobile test lab was sent to the Knesset with two food engineers who collected samples.

Balashnikov announced that the kitchen would remain closed until all tests came back normal, and emphasized that the MKs would not suffer a food shortage. If the closure continues through the beginning of next week, the operator of the Knesset cafeterias is expected to find alternate ways of supplying with meals.

Dr. Michael Dar of the Health Ministry said that Listeria bacteria have been found in a number of locations in Jerusalem in the past few months.