Top detergent producer supplying state institutions with unregulated goods — report

Sano Professional, a subsidiary of household name Sano, said to be obtaining products from West Bank factory that has no Health Ministry permits for materials it uses

Screen capture from video of workers at the Yahalom cleaning product factory. (Channel 12 News)
Screen capture from video of workers at the Yahalom cleaning product factory. (Channel 12 News)

A leading manufacturer of cleaning products has been selling state institutions items made at a factory that has none of the necessary health permits for the goods it uses or produces, Israeli television reported Wednesday.

Sano, a household name and heavyweight in the local market, operates a subsidiary, Sano Professional, that sells cleaning detergents to state institutions, prisons and hospitals. However, some of the items are produced at the Yahalom factory in the West Bank, which, according to Channel 12 news, is entirely unregulated.

The Yahalom factory has operated for over 15 years in an industrial area near the Karnei Shomron settlement and employs 50 Palestinian workers.

Video, some of it apparently covertly recorded, showed employees filing bottles by using a hose and screwing the lids on by hand.

Owner Avad Al-Karim admitted to the station that his factory doesn’t have permits but insisted that his products are the same as those made by Sano at its factory in Emek Hefer, in central Israel.

“What you buy in the original Sano is the same thing,” he said. “Just it has a permit and I don’t, that’s all.”

Prof. Itamar Grotto, former deputy director-general of the Health Ministry, warned of the dangers posed by the chemicals used in factories of that type, and their final products.

“These materials, they sometimes cause poisoning, sometimes illness, exposure to carcinogenic compounds. All these things are dangers that can certainly come from prohibited materials,” he told the networks.

Among the items supplied by Yahalom is a liquid soap that is supposed to have Health Ministry approval. The product is sold by Sano to health services, the fire service, prisons and hospitals, according to the report.

A label on the soap identifies it as being made at Sano’s Emek Hefer plant, but a private investigator discovered several months ago that containers with the same labeling were being produced at the Yahalom factory, the report said.

Sano Professional CEO Rafi Poplavski played down the firm’s ties with the factory. However, Yahalom workers claimed that a truckload a day of products is sent to Sano Professional.

Athough tenders to supply state institutions specify the need for the appropriate permits, Sano was able to make lower bids and win the contacts, the report said, claiming that government entities were aware of the Yahalom factory concerns of potentially dangerous unmonitored products, but nothing was done.

The annual market to supply detergent and cleaning products to institutions is worth NIS 1 billion, of which San Professional nets a quarter, according to the report.

Sano Professional said in a statement that in response it has stopped any trade with Yahalom until it clarifies “the claims of which the company [Sano] was not at all aware of.”

The company said it buys its items from many factories and its operations with Yahalom were on a “small scale.”

“If deficiencies are discovered, we will fix them,” the statement said.

Two years ago, Economy Ministry representatives visited the factory and advised that a proper mechanical production line be installed. But Karim told the station that it would cost up to NIS 400,000 shekels ($119,668), and require him to lay off workers, which he doesn’t want to do.

One worker told Channel 12 that the employees earn NIS 13 an hour, less than half the minimum wage in Israel. Karim was previously convicted of paying workers just NIS 9 an hour, according to the station, which didn’t specify if that occurred at the Yahalom factory.

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