Food manufacturer Williger, whose tuna fish was fingered as the culprit in a food poisoning case in Tel Aviv last week, is suing the Aroma coffee shop in Tel Aviv, where the poisoning incident took place – seeking damages over negative impact on its reputation. In a letter to the court asking for an action against Aroma, attorneys for Williger said that “in light of the investigation which showed that the coffee shop was responsible, my client, who has throughout claimed that it is not responsible, has suffered damages. According to Health Ministry investigations, the entire responsibility for this incident lies with the coffee shop.”
In the incident which took place a week ago Tuesday, a man became ill and was tested positive for food poisoning, which medical personnel said was attributed to a tuna fish sandwich he ate at the Menachem Begin Boulevard branch of the Aroma coffee shop chain. The Health Ministry conducted an investigation and determined that it was the coffee shop that was responsible, having improperly stored the tuna fish. Officials later in the week raided the Williger factory where the tuna used by the coffee shop was processed to check on sanitary conditions.
Although the investigation determined that it was one coffee shop that was at fault, Israelis decided they were better off being safe than sorry, and many eschewed their usual tuna fish sandwich – sending sales of one of the most popular coffee shop staples plummeting by as much as 70%. In addition, supermarkets reported a dip in sales of canned tuna fish, with sales of products by Williger falling by as much as 50%.
According to Williger attorneys, the coffee shop has been telling customers that the tuna fish it received was tainted – adding insult to injury, and further aggravating damages to Williger. In its filing with the court, the company demanded that Aroma “immediately cease all advertising, in writing or verbally, that confers responsibility for the incident on our client. Spreading that rumor constitutes libel. We also demand that the defendants place ads in all media outlets which removes all blame for this incident from our clients.”
The attorneys did not say what they would do if the coffee shop refused. Aroma has yet to respond to the lawsuit.