When is the price too good to be true?
As mentioned in my previous post, you can frequently read reports of meat, fish and eggs that have forged labels. The rabbanut reports it from a kashrut standpoint, but the Ministries of Agriculture and Health report it because of the danger to public health.
Unfortunately, the illegal smuggling of meat from the Palestinian Authority, either slaughtered in the street or as donations from foreign countries is a very lucrative business. The prices of fresh meat in Israel is astronomical, and unfortunately more people care about the bottom line than why the Israeli price is higher than the PA price. It is therefore brought over in the bottoms of trucks without refrigeration, without veterinary supervision, and without a care for the possible diseases it may be incubating in those extraordinarily hot trucks.
Here is a short video showing how the police found a huge hidden panel filled with meat (notice the English labels) because of the strange smell coming out of the truck. The driver says he gets 1000 shekels per delivery and the value of the meat in the truck was 80,000-100,000 shekels. Don’t think this meat goes to backroom bodegas- it is sold to the finest gourmet restaurants in the center of the country. Watch this short video and see. Even if your Hebrew isn’t great, the pictures alone are worth watching.
The story does not end with meat, however. Pirated eggs are one of the most lucrative businesses in the PA. Eggs are also brought in hidden panels, in garbage trucks and other non-refrigerated and unclean vehicles. They are then sold on the market as “farm fresh eggs” and that is why they have no stamp on them or they are illegally brought into a sorting factory and given a stamp. Yossi Beitzim in Rishon L’zion lost their license for stamping smuggled eggs. There are also “stamp factories” in the PA who produce forged stamps on the eggs before they are smuggled over. In 2009 a large factory was discovered and shut down in Kalkaliya.
Can you see the eggs in this picture?
ביצים שהוברחו לישראל צילום ארכיון: חנוך יחיא, משרד החקלאות
These eggs were going to be sold in the local shuk at a fraction of the price you would pay in the supermarket.
Kolbotek went into the field with Pitzuach ( היחידה המרכזית לאכיפה וחקירות (פיצו”ח), a division of the Ministry of Agriculture who is responsible for protecting our borders from smuggled plant and animal products. Here is what they found (don’t be intimidated by the Hebrew):
Another short clip:
What are the lessons we should learn?
- If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t buy it.
- Do not buy eggs without a stamp on them. Under ANY circumstances.
- Do not buy eggs with a blurry or unclear stamp- it may be forged.
- Do not buy meat or fish that does not have Hebrew on the label. The law states that there must be a Hebrew label, even if it is sold in Arabic-speaking neighborhoods.
- Do not buy food of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products) that clearly states that it was produced in a city that is not under Israeli control. This does not apply to products that are not of animal origin.
- If you discover any of these suspicious products, you should report it to Pitzuach by phone (03-9559911), fax (03-9559115) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). They are available 24/7.