couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “pitzuach”

Increased meat/egg smuggling and illegal production during the holiday season

The holiday season is usually characterized by an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle meat originating from the Palestinian Authority, an increase in the rate of illegal slaughter, and an increase in attempts to illegally produce eggs and forge their markings. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development attributes the increase in these illegal activities to the high potential for profit these products offer as the demand for them increases. The inspectors of the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit  (Pitzuach) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development invest a huge amount of time and effort during this period in an attempt to stop smuggling attempts, illegal slaughter, and the forging of animal products, in light of the real threat to public health posed by the possibility that these products, which were produced and slaughtered without veterinary supervision, will be consumed by the public. The inspectors operate based on intelligence information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the areas located between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, in warehouses and in points of sale. 488,790 eggs, 182,233 tons of chicken meat and beef and 676 tons of cheese were seized and destroyed following an order issued by a veterinary doctor this past week alone.

During the weekend, a house in which beef was illegally slaughtered without veterinary supervision was found in Lod. The quantity of beef found in the apartment was especially large – 1 ton. The meat was destroyed following an order issued by a veterinary doctor, and criminal charges were presses against the suspects involved.

In addition, the inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture seized during the weekend a truck attempting to smuggle 4 tons of meat, originating from the Judea and Samaria area in the Palestinian Authority, and intended to be sold in Israel. The truck was caught at the Hotze Shomron checkpoint. The driver, a resident of the central region of Israel in his late 30s, was detained, and criminal charges were pressed against him.

An illegal egg production facility was also found during the weekend. The inspectors of the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, together with officers of the Israeli Border Police and IDF soldiers, raided an egg sorting facility located in the Hevron area, in which eggs were marked in order to make them seem “kosher for sale”. Eggs in the facility were marked with forged stamps of a well-known and certified sorting facility in Israel, and with “kosher for Passover” marks, to make them seem authentic. Forging measures for marking the eggs and 27,000 eggs were seized on location and in a nearby warehouse.

Source: Misrad HaChaklaut web site

For tips on how and where to purchase meat and eggs, check out Aliyah tip #9: buying meat, fish and eggs.

illegal slaughter

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EXPOSED: Heter mechira produce or worse sold as “nochri” produce

During shmitah there is a dramatic increase in the use of “nochri” produce (produce grown by non-Jews) by the haredi population.  This is provided by the Palestinians, who receive 2-3 times the regular non-shmitah price.  Despite the increase in need, there is no subsequent increase in production which creates a strong motivation to provide produce from other sources in order to fulfill the demand and receive double/triple compensation.  This week a produce wholesaler was caught doing just that.  “Kvutzat Siam L’Peirot v’Yerakot” sells fruits and vegetables to restaurants in Jerusalem along with direct sales of produce in the Machane Yehuda shuk.  The owner of this business, Kfir Issa, has a brother who sells Palestinian produce under the business name “Peirot v’Yerakot Mishor Adumim”.  Kfir Issa was caught this week by the Pitzuach unit of Misrad HaChakalut purchasing large quantities of produce from Jewish farms under the heter mechira as well as other farms under no supervision whatsoever.  On this produce he put a fake rabbanut stamp and stored it in cold storage in Mishor Adumim.  From there it was sold to haredi centers as produce under “shmitah l’chumrah”.

Haredi consumers and mehadrin restaurants who thought they were purchasing kosher l’mehadrin produce discovered that under the best situation, they purchased heter mechira produce at 2-3 times the regular price.  In the worst case scenario, they purchased product of unknown origin, under no government or rabbinic supervision at the same price.

The produce came into Israel with travel documents that were for previously purchased Israeli produce that were re-purposed.

Rabbi Rafi Yochai, in charge of kashrut fraud in the rabbanut stated: “This is a revolving door of whitewashing merchandise in large quantities, and the great majority of it we will probably never know about.  Businesses such as these are likely to turn the matter of ‘yivol chul’ into a laughingstock.  This expose shows how important it is to strengthen and to empower the rabbanut, and to put effective tools in their hands for dealing with and supervising kashrut on a national basis.”

Source: Mekor Rishon 24/10/2014

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.

http://www.mako.co.il/news-law/crime/Article-facac6d87d47521004.htm

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

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?

  1. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t buy it.
  2. Do not buy eggs without a stamp on them. Under ANY circumstances.
  3. Do not buy eggs with a blurry or unclear stamp- it may be forged.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. If you discover any of these suspicious products, you should report it to Pitzuach by phone (03-9559911), fax (03-9559115) or by email (zionm@moag.gov.il). They are available 24/7.

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