Will Your Grocery Bills Go Down? Cabinet Approves Food Import Reforms

Bill would cut red tape for bringing in items in 'nonsensitive’ categories like pasta and dry cereal.

Ora Coren
Ora Coren
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Shoppers in an Israeli supermarket.
Shoppers in an Israeli supermarket.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ora Coren
Ora Coren

The cabinet on Sunday approved a bill to ease import controls on foods that will save Israeli consumers an estimated 1 billion shekels a year.

The proposed changes will apply to foods including pasta, baked goods and breakfast cereals. It will eliminate the requirement for Health Ministry approval for each specific product, instead permitting the import of any item that complies with Israeli standards based solely on the importer’s declaration. Ministry inspectors will continue to inspect products in retail outlets and outdoor markets.

Certain “sensitive” categories of food, including dairy, animal products, baby food and fresh produce, are excluded from the proposed legislation. The import of these items will still require filling out the Health Ministry forms and receiving approval in advance.

In addition, importers will still be required to provide all the documents necessary to prove the safety of the food, whether from the manufacturer or from foreign standards agencies, and to submit them to the Health Ministry on request.

The bill recommends the establishment of a special unit to enforce the rules on food imports and to conduct random testing. It also states that the relevant government agencies are responsible for determining the authorities and responsibilities of all involved parties, including importers and retailers, as well as punitive measures in the event the new rules are violated.

Israeli food imports are an estimated 4.3 billion shekels a year, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The foods that would be affected by the proposed changes account for half this amount. Government officials say that because the easing of controls is expected to lead to the import of foods not previously brought into Israel, the proportion of items affected by the changes is likely to increase.

The cabinet recommended that in the interim, before the bill is passed into law, the Health Ministry should ease its import controls for foods included in the draft law.

The provisions of the bill were among a number of recommendations made by a committee headed by the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, Harel Locker, that was appointed to find ways to lower the cost of living in Israel. Other members of the committee included the directors general of the health and economy ministries, as well as the head of the Finance Ministry’s budgets division.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage