Knesset committee seeks to establish ‘food authority'

‘From now on, we will not tolerate shortcomings that go unreported,’ says Health Ministry.

The Knesset plenum  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset plenum
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Knesset Labor Social Welfare and Health Committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) said Tuesday that there is a need for an “Israel Food Authority” to supervise food manufactured, sold in and imported to Israel. Speaking at a special Knesset hearing to address recent Salmonella contaminations, Alalouf said no action has yet been taken to protect the public, and too many authorities deal with food, while none has full responsibility. He said setting up such an authority was part of the coalition agreement with Kulanu, but nothing was done.
The committee met Tuesday for a special debate after a spate of recent scandals involving Israeli food manufacturers.
Last week, a massive recall was announced after salmonella- tainted tehina from the Hanesich factory made it into Shamir-brand hummus, tehina and eggplant dips. Before that, Telma announced a recall of salmonella-contaminated cornflakes.
Speaking at the hearing, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said the revelations about food contamination and factory negligence have made him lose sleep in recent weeks.
“From now on, we will not show any tolerance for shortcomings that go unreported by the factories,” he said. “The names of the owners and the size of the companies will not have any influence.”
But, he added: “We can never be involved in the production of any product. We do not want to paralyze the system. There is salmonella in Israel, but it is lower than in most Western countries.” Recall rates of food products here are no higher than in Europe, he said.
Bar Siman Tov declared that he was opposed to the establishment of a national authority supervising food because it “would not solve any problems.
In two weeks, the cornflakes reform improving enforcement on companies making dry food will begin to be implemented,” he said. “Give it time.”
The committee will hold another discussion on the matter after receiving final reports from the Health Ministry.