Salmonella found in Israeli salads, again

Salmonella found in Israeli salads, again

Osem says none of the affected products left its factory; retailers angered they were not informed

Hummus on sale at a supermarket in Jerusalem on August 11, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hummus on sale at a supermarket in Jerusalem on August 11, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

One of Israel’s largest food manufacturers, Osem, has found traces of salmonella contamination in one of its production lines.

The company discovered the bacteria in a routine examination last week. Products that may have been affected, marketed under the name Tzabar, and including hummus, tehini and eggplant salads, never left the factory, a spokesperson said. The company stressed that there was no risk in any of its products that have reached the shelves.

“The Health Ministry was notified immediately,” the company said. “Cleaning the production line caused a delay in supply of some of the company’s products, but now we have returned to full production capacity. All the products that reached the shelves passed rigorous checks.”

The issue was only revealed when retailers complained of a shortage of the popular salads this week. It is unclear why Osem did not reveal the matter immediately upon discovery.

The source of the bacteria has not yet been discovered, but the affected products all contain tahini, so it appears likely that the contamination originated there.

The episode is the latest in a series of high-profile Israeli food industry contamination cases in recent weeks, including at least two cases involving tahini.

The Health Ministry has had its hands full with contamination scares since the Telma cereal brand said salmonella-tainted cornflakes had found their way to consumers in early August.

Last month, Salatey Shamir (Shamir Salads) said some of its tahini products supplied by the Prince Tahina company were contaminated with salmonella, had reached stores, and were likely eaten by consumers. Some 200 tons of Prince Tahina’s paste were marked for destruction and the dates of suspect products were publicized by Israeli media.

At the end of August the Health Ministry ordered a recall of all RJM Food Industries Ltd. products made after June 23 out of concern of possible contamination. The company’s factory outside the town of Migdal Ha’emek produces the sesame paste in bulk for institutional food services.

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