Over the last few weeks, four toddlers have gotten ill and died suddenly of mysterious causes. Two children remain hospitalized; one is recovering and one is still in intensive care. The Health Ministry debated over whether to announce that they are investigating the deaths as they didn’t want to induce panic. But if word got out about the investigation, the ministry would be accused of withholding information. They are awaiting final lab results but so far there no connection has been found among the children, who came from different parts of the country and had different symptoms. It seems to be a statistical anomaly, and at least one of the children had previous health problems.
Earlier this week an email rumor began circulating claiming that the deaths were related to contaminated Bamba, the heavily marketed children’s snack food. One email forwarded to me this morning was about an uncle working in Superpharm who received a call asking him to take Bamba off the store’s shelves.
Manufacturer Osem’s stock dropped six percent in the stock market as a result of this rumor. My readers know that I am no fan of Bamba. But as a pediatrician friend pointed out, if even one batch of Bamba caused illness Israeli hospitals would be full to capacity with sick children. Negative health effects of Bamba, Bisli, Crembos and other snacks marketed to children are only incremental.
Jameel also wrote about this story.