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Unilever said it has “broadly confirmed” human error led to some of its Telma cereal products contaminated with salmonella being shipped out of a plant in Israel but stressed the company’s manufacturing licence had not been suspended.

A Unilever spokesperson told just-food Israel’s Ministry of Health (MOH) had suspended the company’s GMP [good manufacturing practice] standard while official investigations into the incident continue. However, “production and marketing continue as usual”.

The spokesperson said, “as part of our stringent quality and safety assurance procedure” bacterial contamination of salmonella had been detected from some samples under the local food brand Telma.

The samples were sent to an external laboratory, according to the routine sampling plan of Unilever’s Arad factory and so were “immediately blocked” and kept in storage. But some of the suspect packages were subsequently allowed to leave the facility.

“As a precautionary measure, and in full cooperation with the MOH, Unilever has voluntarily recalled the products, 240 packages in number, that were suspected as contaminated and inadvertently sent to retailers,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, the company completed its own thorough investigation of the incident with the guidance of the MOH, and the results of the audit broadly confirmed the human factor as the reason for this unfortunate event.”

“The safety and quality of the products is Unilever’s top priority, and the company operates in full co-operation with the MOH and is committed to implement all recommendations and conclusions,” the spokesperson said.

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By GlobalData

The MOH said earlier this month Unilever had co-operated fully with an investigation into the incident and there had been “a series of negligent mistakes, but not an incident with malicious intent by the firm’s management and quality control procedures”.