While Unilever told just-food.com that Telma cereal products “production and marketing continue as usual” despite controls from Israel’s Ministry of Health (MOH), Adi Dovrat-Meseritz of Haaretz reports that Olga Raz, a well-known dietician who has told consumers not to be overly concerned about the salmonella bacteria in their food, has also served as a paid spokeswoman for Unilever Israel, whose breakfast cereals sparked the scare.
Raz, a dietitian at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and a senior lecturer in Ariel University’s nutrition department who has had popular radio programs, made two public appearances as a paid spokeswoman for Unilever and its Telma cereals in the last two years.
In an interview this week to the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Yated Neeman, she said, “There’s no need to panic … bacteria have always been there and always will be. … It’s true mistakes happen but big food plants are reporting and inspecting all the time. The real problem is restaurants, delicatessens and cafes, which are unsupervised and don’t test.”
Ariel University sent out a backgrounder to the media a week ago, citing Raz as an authority and a member of the faculty, without mentioning her Unilever connection.
In the Ariel backgrounder Raz also discounted the salmonella problem
In an interview with TheMarker, Raz said her relationship with Unilever, which goes back several years, doesn’t disqualify her to speak on salmonella or other issues affecting the company.
“I didn’t think about it then and even now I still don’t think it’s a problem. I only say things that are accepted by professionals in the matter of salmonella.”
Professionals in the matter of salmonella would say finding it in cereal is a big problem.
Raz, stick to dietary con-games and industry flackery.
Leave salmonella to those who know.