Health Ministry Suspects Contamination in Tnuva’s Powdered Milk

On Thursday, the Health Ministry said that it was exploring the possibility of salmonella contamination in the powdered milk production lines of Tnuva. It is one of the largest food producers in Israel, particularly where dairy products are concerned. According to the ministry, the manufactured powdered milk is not directly sold to consumers, but to factors that process it into different products, which also include a heating process. The ministry stated that this can prevent reproduction of bacteria if they exist in the product. It further said that they had not found any traces of bacteria in any of the retail products that had made use of the powdered milk from Tnuva as a raw material.

Tnuva responded to the ministry and said that there was no risk of any contaminated products ending up with consumers. The company said that the Health Ministry had conducted a test that had given rise to suspicion of contamination in one of their production lines of powdered milk. It went on to say that the product is not directly sold to consumers and is used by other factories as raw material, usually after a process of pasteurization or heating aimed at preventing the reproduction of bacteria. It added that they were cooperating fully with the Health Ministry and complying with its guidelines. 

The Health Ministry stated that they would continue their investigation into the possible contamination. It said that the ongoing investigation of the ministry into the salmonella contamination they had recently detected at the Strauss factory had resulted in the suspicion. This particular investigation saw what many have called the largest food recall to have occurred in Israel. Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of public health at the Health Ministry, stated that the ministry was conducting tests in different factories throughout the country and expanding its investigation. 

She stated that they had tested products that had been kept closed and came from a Tnuva factory. She added that they suspected salmonella contamination in their milk line, but that there were no health hazards for the public. She also said that the coming days would provide additional results and they would be able to confirm if there really is any contamination or not. Last week, the Health Ministry had published a report, which highlighted that 30 out of 300 samples that had been taken from the Strauss factory so far had tested positive for salmonella. 

The report mentioned a range of issues for the contamination, including pigeons infiltrating the factory, construction work undertaken without considering the impact on production, improper thawing conditions used for the dairy fats involved in chocolate production and the absence of a director of food safety. These findings have delivered a major blow to one of the largest food producers in Israel. This is partly because the Strauss Group waited at least a week before it notified the public after they had gotten back their initial lab results. But, the Health Ministry said that they had simply been following the guidelines. 

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