Court to render verdict in 2003 baby formula affair

Three babies died, 20 suffered harm after Remedia’s vegetarian formula was changed; case of three company officials handed to court.

remedia 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
remedia 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The verdict in the case of three former senior Remedia officials in the 2003 baby formula affair will be handed down Wednesday by the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court.
The three officials – Gideon Landsberger, who was the company’s directorgeneral; Moshe Miller, a former owner of the company; and Frederick Black, the company’s former food technologist – stand accused of negligent homicide and committing acts likely to cause disease.
In 2003, three babies died and 20 suffered serious harm because Remedia’s vegetarian formula was changed and did not include Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), even though the cans stated that they did.
Many other babies were hurt.
Vitamin B1 is used by the body to break down sugars, releasing energy into the cell.
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 acid.
Without it, too much acid accumulates in the body, which affects the baby’s sense of balance.
Damage to the central nervous system creates neuropathological symptoms including sleepiness, slowness, depression, lack of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.
In 2011, a group of five Health Ministry officials pleaded 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 formula.
The five were sentenced to community service.
The ministry employees were Dr. Dorit Nitzan- Klosky, 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.
Remedia received the formula from a German-based company called Humana Milchunion, which makes baby food.
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.
Judy Siegel contributed to this report.