couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “food”

More meat and fish shortages expected next week- stock up now

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.

Source: Globes, Agrisupport online

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Black Friday deals at Klei Bayit 28 Nov 2014

If you missed out on the big Chinese Singles Day shopping event 11/11/2014 never fear- you will have another chance on Black Friday- 28 Nov 2014.  I will post deals as I see them.

The household goods store Klei Bayit will be having a sale- no details on what exactly the deals will be but there are enticing pictures up already.  I have purchased from them before- I priced out Sistema food containers and they came out the cheapest in Israel that I could find (including shipping).  Their service was quick and efficient.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find items on their site, so I recommend looking by brand name.  This is not a rock-bottom-at all-cost store- if you are looking for cheap products, I recommend the shuk. This store has quality, mostly European brands at excellent prices.

מבצע 2014 Black Friday בכלי בית

The Milky Wars- is Berlin the new Tel Aviv?

If you haven’t been immersed in holiday preparations, you heard about the anonymous Israeli living in Berlin who posted to Ynet’s Facebook page about how cheap food prices are in Berlin compared to Israel.  Some of the examples he brought up are fresh squeezed orange juice (1.5 euro), Emmental cheese (2.79 euro), rolls (0.13 euro), 500 grams of shnitzel (2.79 euro), milk (1.5 euro), organic eggs (1.39 euro), bolognese sauce (0.79 euro), sliced bread (1.39 euro), and a copy of the beloved Israeli dessert, Milky, for only 0.19 euro- 0.87 agorot.

ןעוט...

ןעוט...

For this reason, he says, he will be staying in Berlin.  Israel, has become the home for only the very rich.  To stay in Israel is to deprive yourself and your family of food, education and a place to live.  To continue to live in Israel is economic abuse for your entire life.  See you in Berlin!

As you could imagine, the storm this 25 year old man’s post has created is without comparison.  From Knesset members to op-ed writers, the feeling has been virtually unanimous- “Yes, food is expensive here.  But is that a reason to leave Israel?  And davka to Berlin?”  “Let him stay in Berlin- if he doesn’t remember the Jewish people’s history with Germany, he will soon be forced to remember.”  “Israel is a new country.  It takes time to create change.  Change can only come from within the country- not from without.”  “As soon as the rabbanut recognizes more foreign kosher supervisory authorities, we will flood the market with lower-priced food items.”

In response, Rami Levy lowered the price of regular Milky and Moo for 1 shekel each for a short time and Victory lowered their price of regular Milky for 90 agorot until 16 October 2014.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative response, the heads of the organization “Berlin Protest” say that they have received over 9000 applications from Israelis who want to move to Berlin.   One of them was interviewed by Arutz 2 and said that he plans to petition the German government for 25,000 work permits and has turned to German economists to figure out how to lower food prices in Israel.  “If Germany can supply cheap food,” he says, “why can’t Israel?”  He was interviewed by Der Spiegel this week, bringing the issue to the broader German public.  The interview can be found in English online. His most poignant comment: “For me, Tel Aviv and Berlin are twin cities.”

For me, that last sentence says it all.  Something has gone quite wrong in Israel when our youth can find no difference between Berlin and Tel Aviv; that they have lost the central reason why we are living- struggling- here in Israel and not in Berlin, Marseilles, Miami, or Melbourne.  The fact that we are Jews and that this is a Jewish State seems to have been removed from our children’s curriculum.  Yes of course we need to have fair prices.  And it most definitely does not mean that Israel is perfect.  But to see Jewish youth fleeing Israel for economic opportunities alone, similar to our grandfathers who fled Russia to America, is sad because it means that we as a country have failed to instill in them the most important value that we have- the necessity and reason for Israel’s existence.

Sources: Ynet, Ynet, Srugim, Srugim

Pesach mission #3: Feed the dogs

If you are a pet owner, you have several choices for Pesach:

  1. Board them for a week
  2. Feed them table food
  3. Feed them KLP food.

Being in Israel, we have many more KLP options for our pets.  Here is a sampling:

  1. Evanger’s canned dog food- 9 shekels a can at inter-pet.co.il 
  2. Bonzo dry dog food- 3kg for 49 shekels at inter-pet.co.il
  3. Premier Club dog food- 3kg for 59 shekels at inter-pet.co.il
  4. Hill’s Science Plan and Prescription Diet food- do not use the American list- Israeli Hill’s is imported from Europe and may have a different formulation.  The list of KLP products in Israel can be found here (updated for 2015)
  5. Le Cat dry cat food- a 9kg package divided into 3- 3kg packages- 139 shekels at inter-pet.co.il
  6. Nutrafin Basix fish food (blood worms)- 39 shekels at inter-pet.co.il

Other places to purchase KLP pet food:

  1. Kef L’chayot– Bonzo
  2. Ten L’Chayot– In previous years they repackaged large-sized Bonzo in week-long packages.  If you don’t mind an unlabeled product, this is a very cheap way to go.  20 kg of Bonzo costs 179 shekels and 3 kg costs 45 shekels.  They also sell Le Cat- 9kg for 29 shekels.

מזון חתולים נטול חמץאוכל לדגים כשר לפסח - Basix תולעים אדומותמזון לכלב כשר לפסח פרימייר קלאב / Premier Club

Do you have another pet food bargain?  Let me know!

Click here for Pesach Mission #4: Guest List

Check the label- it might be faked

Right before Rosh Hashana Channel 2 presented a whole new business in Israel- reprinting expired food labels with later expiration dates.

To watch the video, click here.

For those who had trouble understanding, here is a summary:

Channel 2 went to printing shops to ask if they would reprint labels of food that had already expired.  Their answer- yes!  They say that this occurrence is all too common in minimarkets and restaurants, where they have the label reprinted before a scheduled inspection of the Health Department.  Reprinting is not cheap- one printer quoted 4500 shekels, but the sale is all profit since the food would have been thrown out anyway.

Unfortunately, fake labels is something seen all too frequently in Israel- with Yad Mordechai honey, kashrut stamps and more.

Moral of this story: check the label well- if it looks suspicious or is doubled (a label on top of a label)- don’t buy it.

If you already purchased something that seems suspicious or even just see it in the supermarket, you can file a complaint with the supermarket, the manufacturer, or the Ministry of Health.  Click here to find out how to complain to the Ministry of Health.

The final countdown

No, I am not talking about Syria, although I will get to that later.  Tishrei is right around the corner, and we need to be prepared.  Tonight is the night to plan the next few days so you don’t get caught unawares and out of time.

School

If you have school-aged children, know that there are only three days this week- Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.   Right now- make sure you have three sets of school outfits washed and ready, three sets of meals for school, and three water bottles if you can. (We fill the bottle about 1/4 – 1/3 full with water and put it in the freezer.  In the morning we add cold water and the water stays cold all day.)  Make sure they don’t need to bring anything special to school for the holiday- if so, put it on the calendar and get it now.  Now hopefully you can “forget” about school for now.

Errands

Do you have any last-minute haircut appointments, doctor appointments etc. to schedule?  Be efficient- call tonight and leave a message or book on the internet.  I was just surprised to call a hair salon which has a full messaging service at 11:00 at night!

Rosh Hashana

First things first- make a list of what still needs to be done.  Break it down into the following categories:

  1. Guests– if you have, confirm if they have allergies.   Get the guest rooms and bathrooms ready.  What time are they coming?  Do you have to pick them up?  If so, from where?  If you are a guest, find out what you can bring/make/do to help your host.  If you really want to make the hostess happy, offer to bring some already-seeded rimon 🙂
  2. Going away?– if you are, make sure your neighbor has your key in case of emergency, timers are set, pet/plant sitters arranged.
  3. Laundry– make sure your tablecloths, towels, linens and holiday clothes are washed.   If you have a European machine, you know how how long it takes so plan your time accordingly.
  4. Table– do you have enough tables and chairs?  if not, arrange to borrow from a gamach or a friend now.  Do you have enough tablecloths, silverware, plates, serving dishes, napkins, bowls and cups?  If not, figure out how many disposable items you will need to purchase and get it soon. We found very nice biodegradable plasticware that looks just like the Solo brand and wasn’t too expensive.  Don’t forget candles, matches and long-lasting candles.
  5. Food– Make an inventory of your freezer and start planning meals if you haven’t already.  We all need to purchase fruits and vegetables this week- don’t forget apples, rimon, dates and a new fruit.  Most stores are open Saturday night and have extended hours this week to get your last minute shopping done, but don’t go tonight or Sunday for chicken- wait for Monday or later.  You might be tempted to shop for groceries online, but just remember that you are one of many so expect many items to be out of stock.  You don’t want your order to come Tuesday night missing half the items and you have to run out Wednesday morning for them.
  6. Clothing–  do you have enough for a three day holiday?  I know my son already outgrew the last set of clothing we bought him and we have so far been unsuccessful in dragging him in to purchase another -gasp- three outfits.
  7. Kids– make a list of everything they can do and have them do it.  If it makes your life easier, bribe them.  We have offered 10 agorot- 1 shekel per chore (depending on their ages; can be done multiple times) or three levels of rewards- ice cream, pizza, movie depending on how many they do and whether they work together or not.   I will post some recipes/activities to keep them busy Wednesday while you finish your last minute chores.
  8. Beit knesset– if you go, do you have your seat/membership paid for?  If you can, find out where your seat is beforehand so it will be easier to find it during services.  Do you have enough machzorim?  Do you know where they are?  If you are not going, do you know who can blow the shofar for you?   If your beit knesset has a tzedaka campaign during the holidays (selling honors or having someone come in from another agency), budget now what you are willing/able to spend.   Discuss it with your husband/wife so there are no surprises.
  9. Syria– I said I would get back to that topic.  Although everything is still up in the air, nobody was ever harmed by being prepared.  Stock food/water/medicine in your protective room.  Make sure you have the necessary supplies in case of emergency.  Read the Emergency Situation Preparation Guide by Pikud HaOref.  Check out the Pikud HaOref web site for more information.  If for some reason you do not have your protective masks, click here for a list of distribution centers.  If you do have, make sure they are the right sizes for your family members.

That’s it for now- if you have that all written out, you deserve a break!

Food recalls in Israel- latest update

These are taken from the new Recalls section of the Ministry of Health’s web site:

I posted all recalls of products that still haven’t expired, even though the notice might not have been advertised recently.  Check your shelves!

 

Have you seen the new Ministry of Health?

Their web site, that is.

Like their new logo?

Finally, on par with other countries around the world, Misrad HaBriut has put a Recall section on their web site. It is located in the Food and Nutrition section, along with relevant legislation and information about various topics, in Hebrew.  There is a limited section in English if needed.

I will add this link to my blogroll and in my next post I will sum up the most recent recalls, but I recommend you check it every once in a while, as well as request that your local newspaper carry these recalls- people need to be made aware of them!

 

“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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