couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the category “Read the label!”

Violent Virus Destroying Israeli Tomatoes- what to do?

We have all been frustrated by the high prices for tomatoes and other vegetables this season.  Tomatoes have been especially hard hit because of a virus in the Negev which is destroying entire tomato greenhouses.  The virus is called tomato mosaic virus (also known as tobacco mosaic virus), and infected fruits look like this:

tomato diseases: tomato mosaic virus

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this extremely hardy disease.  According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service,

Unlike fungicidal chemicals used to control fungal diseases, to date there are no efficient chemical treatments that protect plant parts from virus infection. Additionally, there are no known chemical treatments used under field conditions that eliminate viral infections from plant tissues once they do occur. Practically speaking, plants infected by viruses remain so.  Tobacco mosaic virus is the most persistent plant virus known. It has been known to survive up to 50 years in dried plant parts. Therefore, sanitation is the single most important practice in controlling tobacco mosaic virus.

At this point, I am feeling quite sorry for the tomato farmers in the Negev.  One person, however, is not:

The shortages on the shelves are a disgraceful occurrence,” said MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), the chairman of the committee. Even before the committee convened Cabel put out a statement saying that he viewed the situation very gravely and that he intended investigating the truth of the situation and pointing a finger at those responsible for it. Cabel recalled that the committee had already discussed the matter two months ago and warned about shortages and price rises during the Holidays period but despite his warning not enough had been done to prevent this serious situation. (Globes)

He said this last week, when people already knew about tomato mosaic virus running rampant in the Negev greenhouses.  I am not sure how you can call a virus “a disgraceful occurrence”, but I guess there must be one conspiracy theorist in every Knesset.

Since this disease will not be clearing up any time soon (estimates are that supplies will be back to normal around December), last month the Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Bayit HaYehudi) approved the tax-free import of tomatoes and cucumbers.  He did that to ensure a constant supply of vegetables throughout the holidays, but this move was most certainly not the most helpful for consumers.  Why?  First of all, as we have seen time and time again, the supermarket chains don’t lower their prices when they purchase tax-free food- they keep the prices high and swallow the profits themselves.  Secondly, I personally would like to know if I am buying produce from Israel, Jordan, or some other country.  In other countries it is a law that there must be a sign that states the origin of all produce sold in supermarkets.  This is called COOL- Country of Origin Labeling.


Israel, on the other hand, does not have that requirement in their legislation.  Therefore, the consumer can’t tell if the product is an imported, tax-free product which should be priced lower, or an Israeli product.  This again helps the supermarkets hide information that consumers would use to evaluate the price of an item.

If this bothers you as much as it does me, write to The Israel Consumer Council- HaMoetza HaYisraelit L’Tzarchanut. Unfortunately, the complaint form is only in Hebrew.  While you are there, tell them that you support their proposed legislation to limit the markup of fruits and vegetables by supermarket chains:

הצעת חוק פיקוח על רווחי שיווק בתוצרת חקלאית  

Read more about the proposed legislation on their web site.  You might also want to write to other Knesset members expressing your support for the law.

Another place to make yourself heard is by supporting COOL legislation in Israel.  In my next post, Setting the (food) standard in Israel, I will tell you how.

Source: Violent Virus Destroying Israeli Tomatoes – Israel News


Kolbotek is justified in court: There really is a lot of water in frozen fish

In 2010, Kolbotek, the show that loves to expose secrets in the food industry, had a two-part show about the amount of water that is added and/or injected into frozen fish in Israel.  You can watch the videos here:

Quite a furor arose after this show- the Knesset called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, supermarkets ran to remove the products from their freezers, and there were public campaigns to stop buying fish from China.  One of the companies, DeliDag, which is owned by Neto (think Tibon Veal, Atara, Wiliger, and more) sued Kolbotek for “lashon hara”-libel.  The judgement came down last week and DeliDag lost.

One of the judges had this to say about the suit:

Not every threat that publishes a study shows damage to the consumer.  The medicine for this is running to court and filing a libel suit.  Sometimes it is better to bow your head, examine the results of the study, to recognize the fault if there is one, and work to correct it.

So as sensationalist as Kolbotek tends to be, this time you can accept them as truth.  When you buy frozen fish, know that when it says “meubad”- “מעובד”- that means that the fish is processed and not fresh.  Look at the ingredients on the back and you will find food additives such as phosphates listed.  Food additives all have their E number listed with either the name or the type of food additive it is.  If you see that the fish has “tzipui kerach”-“ציפוי קרח”- that fished is glazed.  The law states that there can be up to 20% glazing on a fish.

Misrad HaBriut is responsible for the import of frozen and fresh fish to Israel.  If you find a product on the shelf that is not labeled appropriately or appears to have too much water in it, save the fish and the package and call *5400 or email Misrad HaBriut on their web site (English) to find out where to file a complaint.

Source: TheMarker

EXPOSED: Kashrut and health violations in Osher Ad

Do you buy fresh meat from the counter at Osher Ad in Jerusalem?  If so, you want to watch this video published today by Arutz 10.  The Hebrew is difficult to follow (I watched it twice) but to summarize, this is what they found in two Osher Ad supermarkets:

  1. Sanitary violations- picking up meat from the floor at putting it back in the display, dirty floors
  2. Health violations- grinding fresh and frozen meat together, selling expired products
  3. Kashrut violations- the mashgiach for Kehillot splitting the same piece of meat into Badatz Beit Yosef (Atara) and Kehillot, grinding both hashgachot together and selling it as Atara, the worker adding holograms to packages of meat without instruction from the mashgiach.

Badatz Beit Yosef’s response was that they do not have a mashgiach on the premises of Osher Ad.  Therefore, any meat that is sold in Osher Ad under Atara is prepared and supervised in a different place and brought to Osher Ad already packaged with a hologram.   In the video, however, a worker actually put holograms on packages of meat that were prepared in the store with an Atara label.

Osher Ad’s response on their Facebook page:

The videos that have recently been published are staged.   There is no connection between what you see in the video and the narration that accompanies and interprets it.  The chain promises always and forever to stand by our promise to the consumer to provide low prices, the highest kashrut and quality standards.  That is how we have acted and that is how we will continue to act.

What do you think? I personally have never been in an Osher Ad but I know a lot of readers are- does the video tell the truth?  The votes on Osher Ad’s Facebook page are 50% positive and 50% negative right now.

Turkish eggs found to have pesticide residues

Misrad HaChaklaut announced today that during a routine test of eggs imported from Turkey, they discovered pesticide residues of an amount that is above the legal limit in Israel.  As a result of this, all imports from that region will be tested for pesticide residues before being released for sale.

Did you know that Israel produces 2 billion eggs a year, and that is still not enough to supply the Israeli public? Israel therefore has to import approximately 150 million eggs a year, especially around Pesach and Rosh HaShanah.  For comparison, the United States produces 75 billion eggs per year and Australia produces 392 million dozen.    To date, eggs are imported into Israel from Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The Misrad HaChaklaut article doesn’t say what pesticide residue was found or whether this has happened before.  It also doesn’t say what happened to the contaminated eggs- there hasn’t been a recall, so where did they go?  Where they held until the test results came back or did we eat those eggs?  Not a pleasant thought.

The Marker shows a different perspective of the countries that export eggs to Israel:

מאיפה מגיעות הביצים המיובאות

They also reminded us of the media storm surrounding the importing of eggs from Turkey in 2012 because in Turkey there is no requirement to vaccinate their chickens for Salmonella, as there is in Israel.  At the same time, a study came out in the Poultry Science journal which showed an incidence of 60% Salmonella positive flocks in Turkey, 70% of which being Salmonella Enteritidis, a particularly pathogenic strain of Salmonella that caused a recall of approximately 500 million eggs in the United States in 2010.  Because of this information, pressure was put on Misrad HaChaklaut to enforce the decades-old law which requires egg sorting stations to label which country eggs are produced in.

For more information about eggs in Israel, check out Aliyah tip #1: Understanding eggs (2015 update)


Important: Buying eggs on Pesach

While perusing different forums I see that there is a lot of misinformation being promulgated about eggs on Pesach.  Here is what you need to know:

  1. The dye that is used to stamp eggs on Pesach is KLP.
  2. Eggs have to be stamped on Pesach in exactly the same manner as throughout the year.  Eggs without a stamp on them are ILLEGALLY PRODUCED OR IMPORTED EGGS and should not be purchased.  Report all unstamped eggs to the Ministry of Health at *5400.
  3. Make sure the eggs you purchase are from someone licensed to do so- last year the eggs pictured below were smuggled in from Hebron with “KLP” stamps:

    Source: Kol Chai

  4. Tnuva put out a statement regarding their KLP eggs.  The following is a condensed translation:

“For many years people have been strict in not purchasing eggs that have been stamped because of the suspicion that there may be chametz in the dye used to stamp the eggs.  Unscrupulous people take advantage of this stricture and sell unstamped eggs that have not been supervised by the authorities and may be a risk to public health in addition to being against the law.

Because of this, Tnuva with cooperation of the Badatz Eidah Charedit has spent considerable effort and money to procure a dye that has no suspicion of chametz in it.  All eggs produced by Tnuva at this time are using this dye and are stamped כ. פסח.  This year mashgichim from Badatz Eidah Charedit have supervised this process and these eggs are sold with a special permit that states that the dye used is without chametz.

An interesting point to note is that the chemical of concern in the dye is an alcohol, which evaporates immediately when the egg is stamped and is therefore not present when the eggs are consumed.”

For more general information about purchasing eggs in Israel such as storage temperature, washing of eggs and more, check out my previous post Aliyah tip #1- understanding eggs.

Good news for vegans!

Tivall has just introduced a new symbol on their packages to help distinguish which products are vegan and which products are vegetarian.  Look for the Vegan Friendly symbol on the package to know what to buy.  Last year Tivall was sued in court because they say that their products are vegetarian (“מין הצומח”) but some have eggs in them.  Although the eggs were clearly labeled in the ingredients, eggs cannot be qualified as “from vegetables”.  This is Tivall’s response to the legislation.

Pesach deals at Rami Levy- ENDS TODAY 9 Feb 2015

I finally got my Rami Levy credit card in the mail this week with some pretty awesome coupons so I decided to break it in and  do some Purim shopping.  These are the coupons I received- how about you?


While I was in the store, I did notice some attractive products for Purim (8 Elite chocolate bars for 32 shekels for example), what really got me excited was their sales on KLP products.

For example:





This product wasn’t on sale but I had a coupon for it from Rami Levy:


This wasn’t on sale either but I noticed it already had a KLP label:


This also wasn’t on sale but it reminds me to make an important point- if you are shopping for Pesach, make sure each product has KLP certification on it!  You don’t wan’t to put away a product for no reason.


All of these products have no kitniyot.

So if you have some free time today, go to Rami Levy and get your Pesach shopping started!

Milkys found not to have real chocolate

Two class action lawsuits have been settled today against Strauss, stating that they cannot label Milky as “chocolate” if the ingredients do not include chocolate as defined by Israeli Standard 36.

According to Israeli Standard 1145, if the name of a food “shows off”a certain ingredient or if there is a picture of that ingredient, the manufacturer must list the percentage of that ingredient in the list of ingredients.  In addition, the Standard says that the name of a food must be accurate and able to be proven.  Therefore only if there is chocolate as defined by the Israeli Standard in the ingredients can you write that the product has chocolate in it.  Otherwise you have to write “chocolate flavor-בטעם שוקולד”.

This is the current Milky label:

הכיתוב הישן. מילקי שוקולד (ובקטן: "בטעם שוקולד") (צילום: אדר טל)

(הכיתוב הישן. מילקי שוקולד (ובקטן: “בטעם שוקולד”) (צילום: אדר טל


As you can see, it does says b’taam shokolad, but only under the large words “Shokolad”.

This is the new label:

הכיתוב החדש: כיתוב עקבי: "בטעם שוקולד" (צילום: עידו ארז)

(הכיתוב החדש: כיתוב עקבי: “בטעם שוקולד” (צילום: עידו ארז

Here there is no gigantic “Shokolad”,only the words “b’taam shokolad” the same size as the rest of the labeling.

Strauss’s punishment from the court was having to change the label and to donate 300,000 shekels worth of dairy products to charitable organizations- specifically HaEmek hospital or an equivalent organization that has no previous connection with Strauss.

What do you think of this lawsuit?  Ridiculous or righteous?  Before you answer, take a look at another very famous “chocolate” item:

Wait- that isn’t Hershey’s CHOCOLATE syrup, it is Hershey’s syrup with “genuine chocolate flavor”.

So Israel apparently isn’t the only country who distinguishes between real chocolate and chocolate flavor.  The “punishment” as it is ends up being relatively free advertising for the Strauss so I don’t think they will be too distressed over this verdict.

In other frivolous chocolate lawsuit news, a court ruled that Osem, General Mills, Vita, and Maimons can still call their product “kadoorei shokolad- כדורי שוקולד” and not “kadoorim b’taam shokolad- כדורים בטעם שוקולד”.  Thank goodness for that!

Source: Ynet, Ynet, GAIN Report, Israel Standard Institute Amendment 6 and 7

Is this place for real???

If you saw a food product that is suspicious for whatever reason or if you would like to know if a food manufacturer or caterer has a manufacturers’ license from Misrad Habriut, click on this link to look up the manufacturer.  You can also find out what products they are licensed to manufacture.

Some examples:

  • Osher Ad in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem has a license as a butcher (אטליז).  That means that they are allowed to package ground beef without a customer present. (A butcher without a manufacturers’ license can only grind meat in front of the customer)
  • Meatland in Raanana has a license to manufacture refrigerated and frozen prepared foods and frozen dough to be sold on the premises only.
  • Kibbutz Shalavim’s kitchen has a license to manufacture prepared foods to be sold off the premises (e.g. a catering hall).

What does it mean if the food business you are looking up is not on the list?  First of all, you should know that restaurants, supermarkets, and food stands do not get a manufacturers’ license from Misrad HaBriut- they get a business licence from the municipality they are located in.  If you still think the business should be on the list and is not, contact your district health office through the link on the page or the central line at *5400.

Another important point to make is that caterers that provide food to educational institutions must have a manufacturers license.  Find out who caters the hot meals in your child’s school/gan/tzaharon and make sure they have an up to date license.   The requirement is not applicable for private educational facilities and food that is not brought into the school by the school (e.g. vaad horim), but is a minimum standard that you should insist upon.  The section that applies to catering is titled “מזון מוכן להגשה מחוץ למקום הכנתו – הסעדה (קייטרינג) כריכים”.

WARNING: Dangerous levels of methanol in vodka and arak

Bottles of “Vodka Kremlin” and “Nasich HaArak” that were confiscated by police were tested by Misrad HaBriut and was found to have 523 – 533 times the legal amount of methanol in them.  The arak is suspected to be a forgery because of various misspellings such as the word “ערק” which is spelled “ארק” and the word “ממולא” which is spelled “ממלוא”.

The permitted amount of methanol in vodka and arak according to Israeli Standard 1572 is 10 grams per 100 liters ethanol.

Drinking excessive amounts of methanol can lead to blindness and even death.  Methanol poisoning is expressed as dizziness, confusion, weakness, headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, and convulsions.

Misrad HaBriut is calling on the public not to drink these products because they are a danger to public health.

If needed, you can report to the moked at *5400 or the Department of Enforcement in Misrad HaBriut at 02-6551797, 02-6551772 or email


Source: Misrad HaBriut

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