couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “kolbotek”

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

Animal cruelty charges filed against Adom Adom workers

For those who don’t remember, last fall Kolbotek showed a video exposing graphic scenes of animal abuse at the Adom Adom slaughterhouse in Beit Shean.  This week, criminal charges were filed against the manager of the slaughterhouse line, his deputy, and two contract employees for their egregious behaviour against animals.

Tnuva responded: “Adom Adom condemns the behavior of animal abuse and condemned these unacceptable actions immediately when they were discovered. To repeat and emphasize, since the exposure of these distressing cases, Adom Adom has taken meaningful measures including dismissing the factory’s manager, ending the work of the contract employees mentioned in the article, improving work procedures and others – in order to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.

“A draft of the indictment was received by Adom Adom and it is being thoroughly reviewed. The two employees mentioned within have been released on leave, and in no case will return to work with animals.

Adom Adom will continue to raise its standard of operational excellence and ensure the excellent quality of its products to consumers.”

Source: Ynetnews

Aliyah tip #2- beef

Now that everyone has decoded the Israeli egg, we can move on to meatier topics…

As I am sure you have seen, Israel beef cuts do not have the same names as they do in our native lands- in fact, they even have numbers.

Many great bloggers have already deciphered them for us- Baroness Tapuzina, Ruth Baks on IsraelFood,  and IsraelEasy so I won’t reinvent the wheel.  Katherine Martinelli even has a fun post on the trials and tribulations of making brisket for Thanksgiving.

I like this picture the best because it tells me what cut to use for the type of food I want to make:

For me personally, I use katef for ground beef, which drives the butcher up the wall because it has no fat so he says it will have no taste.  Since I drain the fat off anyway afterwards, why should I pay for it?   Over time he has learned to respect my wishes and allow me to purchase his meat (he is so kind!)

For a barbecue we have decided that that there is no better steak in Israel than sinta (#11)- much better than entrecote (#1).  Just realize that numbers 11-18 are from the hind of the cow- Sephardim kept the tradition of nikkur but Ashkenazim did not so their tradition is not to eat the hind end.   This, like the tradition of not eating kitniyiot on Pesach and saying only “taf” instead of “saf”, are some of the traditions that are slowly fading (some more slowly than others).

What I really wanted to talk about was the difference between frozen and fresh meat, and the different types of fresh meat.

Frozen beef

Beef is imported into Israel mainly from South America.  It can come either already kashered (soaked and salted) or not.  Non-kashered meat has a sign “בשר לא מוכשר”.   Frozen beef can be either golmi- גולמי (raw) or me’ubad- מעובד (processed).  Me’ubad meat, although it looks the same as golmi, is not.  It has water, salts, and phosphates injected into it.  The law states that there can be up to 10% water weight added.  Sometimes it can be VERY difficult to find out whether the meat is me’ubad or not.  This picture shows how beef should be labeled:

As you could imagine, me’ubad beef should be cheaper than 100% beef.

The other term you might find on frozen beef is meyushan- מיושן (aged):

בשר קפוא משובח

Meat that is imported to Israel frozen is “wet aged”- placed in a vacuum pack for at least two weeks to allow the meat to become softer.  In theory it should garner a higher price.  Personally I have not seen a quality difference.  More about aged beef to come.

Fresh beef

Because of import taxes, fresh beef is not imported into Israel- only frozen.  There have been some trials but to date it is unsuccessful.  Most cattle that are used for beef in Israel are imported from Australia at a young age and then raised here for approximately 6 months.

Fresh beef in the display case may be either really fresh or may be mufshar- מופשר (defrosted)  The defrosted beef was wet aged (aged in a vacuum package) after it was defrosted.  The Ministry of Health requires the two types of meat to be separated and for the defrosted beef to be labeled as such- “בשר מיושן מבשר קפוא”.  In many advertisements you will see the meat labeled only as “aged”- “מיושן”:


(click on the picture to enlarge)

Kolbotek ran a special showing the difference between defrosted-and then-aged beef and fresh beef. For those whose Hebrew is not sufficient, when you touch fresh beef, it should not spring back.  The fat should not be glossy.  Fresh aged beef is brownish in color- wet aged is bright red.  From a safety standpoint, defrosted beef should not be re-frozen without cooking first.  And of course, defrosted/aged beef should command a much lower price than fresh beef.  Watch for the demonstration even if the Hebrew is difficult:

To summarize, make sure you understand what you are purchasing, and make sure the price you pay isn’t too good to be true.

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