A few weeks ago a leading Israeli fruit juice manufacturing plant had several hundred tons of water melon concentrate condemned by the ministry of heath on the pretext that there were unacceptable contaminants within the juice.
The concentrate in question was destined for use on the home market where it is used by the ice cream and iced lollie factories to manufacture a popular range of water melon flavored products. This set back has put additional pressure on a market sector which is already struggling to survive the current market recession.
Israel has suffered several consecutive years of very low rainfall. The sea of Galilee which is the major fresh water reservoir for Israel and it’s neighbours has reached dangerously low levels and as a result of this crisis water prices have risen several fold. As a result of this new state of affairs the profit margins in which vegetable and fruit growers operate have been cut even further and it is really uncertain from year to year if it will be worth growing anything at all.
The jordan valley which enjoys a milder winter than many other parts of Israel is famous for producing early fruit and vegetable harvests both for the home and export markets.
Seemingly, some of the areas water melon growers took it upon themselves to irrigate this years water melon harvest that was intended for industry with grey water instead od fresh water. The logic behind this decision being that grey water does not contain more contaminants than those already presant in ordinary soil.
What is not clear is if the water used for irrigation was indeed just grey water or if the suppliers of the grey water added certain quantities of first stage black water filtrate to the grey water that was being supplied to the farmers. It is also possible that the farmers used grey water for the initial stages of germination and consequent stages before the development of the water melon itself, switching over to fresh water once the melon began to develop. In any case, whatever the sequence of events was, contaminants entered the melons.
Samples of the water melon concentrate were tested both for chemical and microbial contaminants and found to test positive for both categories of contaminates within the concentrate. the concentrate was deemed to be a risk to public health and presented a food hygiene problem. The water melon concentrate was condemned and will not be used to make the iced products that it was intended to make.
The case is being looked into more closely by the public prosecutors office and charges are expected to be issued to those responsible for taking these regretable discisions to used contaminated water for growing water melons.