Israeli frozen vegetable giant in hot water as snakes, rats and fingernails discovered

The incident prompted a surprise inspection of the Sunfrost factory and a massive drop in sales.

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Frozen vegetable giant Sunfrost has roiled Israeli consumers after its green beans were found with snakes, rat parts, dead birds, fingernails and various other organisms, prompting a mass recall and an 80% drop in sales.

The Health Ministry also became involved in the scandal after the company initially tried to play down the problem and refused to issue a recall of its products. Health Ministry inspectors carried out an impromptu inspection at the Sunfrost factory on Monday, Arutz Sheva reported, and scrutinized the production process. Areas of improvement were identified throughout the process chain, the report said.

Consumers began discovering unwanted visitors in their greens two weeks ago, when one woman found a whole mouse in a package of green beans. Last week, two customers complained that they had found parts of a snake and a snail, respectively, in a package of frozen peas. This week, the company received complaints that a bird’s foot had been found in a package of beans, and in a separate incident, a human fingernail.

In a response that did little to explain the fingernail, the company said that the vegetables are picked from the ground where rodents and snakes can be found. It admitted that in any case, the foreign bodies should have been caught by its quality control inspectors.

Eyal Melis, CEO of the Tnuva Group that owns Sunfrost, said: “We apologize to consumers and take full responsibility. We are making a thorough re-evaluation of quality controls at the plant, with the help of experts from abroad. Based on professional opinion, we believe that there is no health risk to the public. We received the order from the Ministry of Health to carry out a recall last Friday, we announced it on Saturday, and we started carrying it out Sunday morning.”

He added that affected customers could receive double credit on the faulty products by contacting the company’s hotline.

After the news broke out, sales of Sunfrost’s frozen vegetable products dropped by a dramatic 80% from the previous week, the Israel Hayom daily reported.

The Sunfrost factory produces about five million bags of green beans per year, amounting to 7,000 tons of fresh beans which are boiled at 98° water before undergoing the freezing process.