Israeli State Controller Micha Lindenstrauss, in a report released this week concludes that the Agriculture Ministry has been acting to ensure the income and profits of farmers, not the health of consumers.
The State Controller examined the government oversight of the feed market for animals and reached serious conclusions.
Lindenstrauss concluded that the existing legislation in Israel dealing with oversight of animal feed is outdated and aims at increasing production and profit, not at preserving public health.
He called to expedite the legislation of new laws so that standards would reach those of other developed countries.
Supervision over the producers of feed is insufficient, Lindenstrauss said. The ministries of agriculture and health place responsibility on each other for watching over animal feed containing medicines, and meanwhile oversight is lacking.
Antibiotic growth promoters still in use
The use of antibiotic growth promoters continues in Israel without the necessary controls even though the Health Ministry has demanded that use of such materials cease.
For example, the Agriculture Ministry still allows chicken farmers to use carcinogenic arsenic-based compounds as a growth promoter.
Although these compounds are banned by law in Israel to use in chicken feed the Agriculture Ministry ignores this fact, arguing that the responsible officials "were not aware of the instructions in the law."
Feed containing arsenic compounds continued for four years and was stopped only because of opposition voiced by the ministries of health and the environment.
Nonetheless, the Agriculture Ministry continued to seek legal ways to resume the use of the dangerous substance.
According to data from the ministry, the financial implications of ceasing to use the arsenic compounds stood at NIS 25-50 million (€ 4.5-9 million) in losses for the chicken farmers.
In order to prevent this loss the Ministry of Agriculture was ready to ignore the possible risks to the health of chicken consumers and to the environment.
Representatives of the consumer public were never included in the discussions on whether to continue using the carcinogenic additives.