Tara, a leading Israeli dairy company, issued a denial on Wednesday of allegations that it had removed nutritional ingredients from some of its cheese brands without informing consumers, Haaretz reported.
In recent months, the company apparently removed some nutritional ingredients from its soft white cheeses and probiotics from the cottage cheese it markets, without notifying the public.
Probiotic bacteria were removed from the production process for Tara’s cottage cheese and dietary fibers were removed from the dairy’s white cheeses. The amount of protein in Tara’s white cheeses also dropped 5% from 8.6 to 8.2 grams per 100 grams of cheese.
Actually, as Haaretz itself noted, while the changes were not publicized, the ingredients in question were duly dropped from the list of ingredients on the packaging, thus avoiding any charge of false advertising.
In response, Tara explained that the dietary fibers and probiotics were taken out a long time ago, claiming it was done at the request of consumers. Regarding the protein content of its cheeses, the company maintains that no change has been made or contemplated.
“The company checks from time to time what additives to include in its products, that is: calcium, vitamin D, dietary fibers and probiotics,” the company responded. “In light of consumer demand, Tara continues to enrich (unlike some its competitors) its cheeses with calcium and vitamin D.”
The changes may be significant. Deleting probiotics from cottage cheese downgrades its nutritional value, according to Michal Sukman, a clinical dietician at the Maccabi health maintenance organization.
In addition, Sukman said regular consumption of cottage cheese with probiotics aids the digestive system of people suffering from lactose intolerance. However, the removal of dietary fiber and a five-percent reduction in the amount of protein in white cheeses has a negligible effect.
“A change in the ingredients of a food product necessitates informing consumers,” says Zeev Friedman, legal counsel at the Israel Consumer Council. “There are quite a few consumers for whom the nutritional makeup of a product is critical. A change in a material detail could even be considered deception by omission [in marketing].”