German baby formula firmpay outs to Israeli victims

2nd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 August 2004 , HERFORD - Humana, a German manufacturer of baby formula, confirmed Monday it was paying financial compensation to children in Israel who became ill with beriberi after being fed a soy-based milk substitute that lacked vitamin B1. But the company declined to specify the amount, saying this was confidential under the out of court settlement. On Saturday, Israeli television news said up to 100 million schekels (22.3 million dollars) would be paid to the families. Humana admitted 10 months ago

2 August 2004  

HERFORD - Humana, a German manufacturer of baby formula, confirmed Monday it was paying financial compensation to children in Israel who became ill with beriberi after being fed a soy-based milk substitute that lacked vitamin B1.

But the company declined to specify the amount, saying this was confidential under the out of court settlement.

On Saturday, Israeli television news said up to 100 million schekels (22.3 million dollars) would be paid to the families.

Humana admitted 10 months ago that it had inadvertently left the vitamin out of the kosher formula, which was sold only in Israel and under another brand name, Remedia. Four staff were sacked for their role in the faulty calculations of the recipe.

Two babies are believed to have died as a result. A lack of vitamin B1 causes the wasting disease beriberi. Humana did not say how many children in all had been affected, but the TV account said 17 families would receive compensation.

Asked about the sum named, a Humana spokesman said, "We don't know where this figure comes from. Confidentiality was agreed about the amount, and on legal grounds I can't say any more." He said the number of families involved was also confidential.

Commentators said that as a farmer-owned dairy cooperative, Humana Milchunion based in the western town of Herford, was not required to publish its accounts. The company's main products are bovine-milk- based formula and other dairy foods.

Humana said separately in a press statement that it accepted its responsibility "in connection with the tragic events in Israel" and would act in the future in conformity with that.

"The management and staff of Humana deeply and sincerely feel for the affected families," the statement added.

Prosecutors in both Germany and Israel have cooperated in homicide inquiries against the four dismissed Humana staff.

Harald Krahmueller, a spokesman for prosecutors in the German city of Bielefeld, said expert reports from Israel had recently been translated and provided to the defence attorny.

The next step would be to compile the defence responses and obtain a German scientific review of the Israeli evidence.

DPA

Subject: German news

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