Israeli Food Giant Strauss Releases Controversial Campaign Encouraging Schoolchildren to Eat Junk Food

'Learning is tastier with Tapuchips,' Strauss' ad promises in a move contradicting an industry effort to dissuade Israeli children from eating unhealthy foods

The new Strauss ad encouraging schoolchildren to eat the company's potato chips.
Ronny Linder-Ganz

Strauss, a major Israeli food manufacturer, recently signed on to an industry-wide undertaking not to encourage children to eat excessive amounts of unhealthful food. But now it’s running an ad campaign encouraging pupils to eat its potato chips in the classroom.

“You’ve opened a bag of Tapuchips in class? What a world of fun you’ve opened for yourself. Tell us about one of the funniest things that happened in your class and you could win a carton of Tapuchips delivered to your home,” the company says in a Facebook posting.

The campaign also includes billboards with the come-on, “Learning is tastier with Tapuchips.” On Facebook, Strauss has uploaded videos and contests that include prizes like more Tapuchips and meals at the Burger Ranch chain of fast-food restaurants.

Tapuchips may be fun, but they are definitely not healthy: A 100-gram bag of the ketchup-flavored version contains 16 grams of saturated fat and 656 milligrams of sodium. The plain variety has 640 milligrams of sodium and as much saturated fat as the ketchup version.

If the labeling reforms approved by the Knesset in December were in force, Tapuchips would be carrying the mandated red warning labels for foods deemed unhealthful. The law, which doesn’t take effect until 2020, requires the warning for products with over 500 milligram of sodium or 5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams of product.

The industry had sought to block the reforms by, among other things, signing a voluntary declaration on responsible advertising for children in September. Signers promise to “not encourage teenagers to consume excessive amounts of food products that contain high amounts of sugar, salt or fat.”

In response, Strauss said the ads were directed at older students. “The Facebook post is intended for a student audience, aimed at and designed for relevant internet users only, and intentionally targeted teenagers.”

That said, the campaign refers to classes in schools, not colleges. The billboards show a globe, pencils and school supplies more likely to be found in an elementary school classroom than a university lecture hall.

The Health Ministry said in response that it was working on several fronts to discourage children and teens from eating unhealthful food, among them a ban on snacks being sold on school grounds or brought from home.