couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!”

We have all had that experience when you bring home something to eat, open it up, and find something dreadfully wrong with it.  Whether it is a rat in a loaf of bread, rotten food despite the still-good expiration date, or anything else, sometimes food production can leave the consumer with a few unpleasant surprises.

So who do you complain to when you have a problem with your food?

Of course, this being Israel, it is complicated.

The Ministry of Agriculture surpervises living food animals and products (milk, eggs and honey) until the animal’s death or when the product leaves the “sorting station.”  After that, the Ministry of Health is responsible.  The Ministry of Agriculture is also responsible for supervising the imports of non-processed food of animal origin (beef cuts, shell eggs, etc.)

Within the Ministry of Health, Sherut HaMazon supervises factories, and Briut HaSviva supervises restaurants, supermarkets, and duchanim– temporary food stands.

Within each city or district (moetzah), there is at least one veterinarian, who is responsible (among other things) for inspecting factories, restaurants, etc.  They also inspect of all food of animal origin that enters the city/district from another city/district (bedikat mishne or bedikat trom shivuk).  These veterinarians are hired by the city/district but are supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Got that?

Returning to complaints:

If you want to complain about a food in a restaurant, supermarket, or food stand, you should speak with your city/district veterinarian and the Ministry of Health- Briut HaSviva.  You should, of course, also complain to the place you purchased the item.

If you want to complain about a manufactured food item, you should again speak with your city/district veterinarian and also speak to the local district of Ministry of Health- Sherut HaMazon.

Formal complaints to government offices need to be written.  You can come in to the office and they will help you fill out the paperwork or you can send an email/FAX.  It is extremely helpful if you keep the offending item for laboratory analysis (frozen is OK) as well as the original packaging so the item can be traced.

Where to complain (תלונות):

  • City/district veterinarian- you should call the iriyah and ask to speak with the veterinarian.  Their contact info is also frequently found on the city/district web site.
  • Misrad HaBriut has instituted a contact center to help citizens get better access to the departments they need.  You can call *5400 and your complaint will be directed to the correct department.  Alternatively, you can send a fax to 02-565-5969 or an email to call.briut@moh.health.gov.il for Sherut HaMazon.  General complaints or questions to Misrad HaBriut should be sent to pniot@moh.health.gov.il .  I don’t know if the phone numbers are still vaild, but the contact information for each district office is listed here.

Don’t forget, this is Israel, and the only way to get something accomplished is by being a kartziah (literally, a tick).  Don’t expect an instant answer, but don’t be afraid to keep calling/writing until you get satisfaction.

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