Baby food officials sacked after deaths

17th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

17 November 2003 , BIELEFELD - A German baby food manufacturer said Monday it has fired four senior executives following the deaths of two babies in Israel who consumed what the company acknowledges was a vitamin-deficient product.

17 November 2003

BIELEFELD - A German baby food manufacturer said Monday it has fired four senior executives following the deaths of two babies in Israel who consumed what the company acknowledges was a vitamin-deficient product.

Four executives in charge of product research and development, the company's primary laboratory and in the quality control department had been dismissed with immediate effect, said Humana Milchunion CEO Albert Grosse-Frie.

Public prosecutors in Germany meanwhile are continuing to investigate company executives on suspicion of manslaughter.

Israeli authorities say two babies died from consuming the German-produced milk substitute and that there have been reports of 15 cases of beriberi, caused by vitamin B1 deficiency which can lead to brain damage. All were fed on the soy-based formula.

Humana Milchunion in Herford, Germany, acknowledged last week that it had accidentally left out the key ingredient due to a mathematical error when devising the formula.

Conceding partial responsibility, Humana Milchunion confirmed it should have added vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, to the kosher formula, a protein-rich milk substitute that is based on soybeans.

Without vitamin B1, babies lose appetite, become short of breath, lose muscle mass and can suffer cardiac circulatory collapse. Doctors say beriberi occurs in breast-fed babies too if the mother suffers from vitamin B1 deficiency.

Grosse-Frie blamed "human error" and "a chain of unfortunate circumstances". He said Humana would cooperate with investigating authorities, adding, "We have nothing to hide".

DPA

Subject: German news

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