The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted former Remedia top
technologist Frederick Black of negligent homicide, acquitted former CEO Gideon
Landsberger of negligent homicide, while convicting him of a minor crime, and
fully acquitted former owner Moshe Miller in the 2003 Remedia baby formula
The three officials were indicted in 2008 and were all accused of
negligent homicide and committing acts likely to cause disease, as well as other
The court called the affair “a horrible and disgraceful disaster,
which evolved into a tragedy.”
The partial conviction and partial
acquittals are at best a mixed result for the families of the three babies who
died and the around 20 babies who suffered serious harm caused by the fact that
Remedia’s revised vegetarian formula did not include Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), even
though the cans stated that they did.
Remedia received the formula from a
German-based company called Humana Milchunion, which makes baby food.
mostly acquitting Landsberger and fully acquitting Miller, the court placed most
of the responsibility on Humana.
The court ruled that Remedia was not in
on the decision to omit Vitamin B1, and only convicted Black of negligent
homicide because he was the top science professional who, according to the
court, was negligent in not uncovering the issue.
Michal Zisser, whose
baby died due to the baby formula, reacted to the result in which most of the
responsibility was placed on Humana and not Remedia, stating, “This is
ridiculous, because basically I bought from Remedia, not from
Eli Olnobsky, another parent of a baby who died, responded to
the ruling: “It [Remedia] had no hand in it? It did! They did not get what they
deserved. There is no justice.”
The body uses Vitamin B1 to break down
sugars, releasing energy into the cells.
Vitamin B1 deficiency reduces
the amount of energy available and can harm bodily systems, particularly the
central nervous system.
Vitamin B1 also prevents concentrations of lactic
Without it, too much acid accumulates in the body, which affects
the baby’s sense of balance.
Damage to the central nervous system leads
to neuropathological symptoms including sleepiness, slowness, depression, lack
of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.
In a dramatic moment, the court read
out the names of each of the victims, their dates of birth and the dates of
death for the babies who died.
The court said, “These gentle ones,
victims, innocent, and the families in their perpetual suffering will always be
before our eyes and fill all human beings with deep sadness.”
Lev also said, however, that in deciding the fates of the three defendants, she
was bound by the contours of the criminal law and what had or had not been
proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Regarding Black, the court said that he
had the overall responsibility and ability to check into the issues relating to
the Vitamin B1 deficiency in light of changes he knew were taking place
regarding the baby formula and negligently failed to do so, leaving the victims exposed
and doomed to their fate.
In contrast, the court found that the other two
officials had no idea or warning about the changes to the baby formula and had
relied on Black and other science professionals to advise them on such
In 2011, five Health Ministry officials plead guilty to
negligence with the likelihood of causing a disease, but without a formal
criminal conviction to go on their records, for failing to properly supervise
and report to the public on the problems associated with the Remedia
The five were sentenced to community service.
ministry employees were Dr. Dorit Nitzan-Klosky, sentenced to 500 hours, who was
in charge of the National Food Service at the time of the affair, and four
supervisors at the Ashdod and Haifa ports, whose job it was to examine food
imports, sentenced to 400 hours each.
As recently as January 2012, the
Health Ministry was still being criticized for faulty oversight of certain
pharmaceutical companies and their drugs.
Subsequent to the criticism,
the Health Ministry announced that it would establish a website to receive
reports of side effects from another drug, Eltroxin, the drug for hypothyroidism
that an independent investigative committee found underwent changes in its
composition and caused side effects in some 800 Israelis.