Municipal veterinarians throughout the country are threatening to strike on October 26 in protest of a proposed new law that will transfer much of their authority to a תאגיד (corporation) that will perform veterinary inspection of food of animal origin under the authority of the Ministries of Health and Agriculture.
The main focus of their ire is the revoking of what is called בדיקת משנה- literally secondary examination- of meat, poultry, and fish when it passes from municipality to municipality. The laws that require this examination were written 30 and 50 years ago and are not performed in any other developed country. Detractors of this examination say that each municipality charges exorbitant fees, has very limited hours for inspection (generally not in tandem with delivery hours), and actually damages the products by exposing them to high temperatures when opening the truck for the exam. Rescinding this part of the law will lower prices for the consumer and provide a higher quality product with a longer shelf life. The “taagid”, under government authority and not privately owned, will inspect the food before it leaves the factory as well as when it arrives at its final destination- whether it is a supermarket, cold storage, or restaurant.
Proponents of “bedikat mishne” say that there won’t be enough inspectors to ensure the safety of food that is currently inspected by municipal veterinarians. Prices won’t drop as expected and consumers will receive a lower-quality product.
This reform is part of the new Misrad HaBriut Food Law which passed the first reading in the Knesset and is being discussed prior to the second and third reading as part of חוק ההסדרים. This law combines several laws into one and therefore the Food Law will be whisked along with other politically important legislation. You can compare the hok to a VIP pass allowing fast access by avoiding all the lines.
I have strayed from the point of this post, which was to say that if the municipal veterinarians strike, they won’t be examining meat and fish that enters their municipality. Since it must be inspected before it enters, there won’t be any meat or fish moved throughout the country starting on the 26th. Food can be moved locally, however. For example, if a shipment of frozen fish arrives by boat to the Ashdod port and is released to cold storage in Ashdod, all of the supermarkets in Ashdod can get fish delivered because it didn’t move between municipalities. Chicken, however, is a different story. Almost all of it moves between municipalities so expect a severe shortage. What people may not realize is that stopping production not only hurts consumers, it also causes צער בעלי חיים- suffering to the animals. Poultry has to be slaughtered by a certain age because if it is delayed, the birds will become too big for their house. This will cause excessive crowding and undue stress on the birds. It is not practical or financially feasible to move them to a larger house or split them up into two for that short time until they go to slaughter. Therefore, whatever the outcome, it must be decided quickly because there will be a lot of pressure on Misrad haChaklaut to prevent those birds any undue suffering.