Food Importers Slam Israeli Labeling Rules

The label requirement is the centerpiece of a plan to force food makers to put red labels on food products that exceed maximum levels of sodium, sugar and saturated fats.

Costs would be especially high because it would require the labels to be affixed manually.
Moti Milrod

Three days after the Health Ministry issued draft rules on new labeling requirements for food deemed unhealthy, importers warned Monday they would be forced to raise prices if they are included in the new directives.

“The inevitable consequences of creating regulatory requirements unique to Israel will restrict imports, harm competition and severely affect the cost of living. The enforcement of labeling will raise the cost of imports in general, especially in comparison to local products,” the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce’s food division said.

It said the costs would be especially high because it would require the labels to be affixed manually. Among the companies that would be affected are Unilever Israel, Neto, Wilifood and the supermarket chains Super-Sol, Victory and Tiv-Tam.

The label requirement is the centerpiece of the ministry’s plan to force food makers to put red labels on food products that exceed maximum levels of sodium, sugar and saturated fats. Initially they will appear on products containing more than 800 milligrams of sodium, 22.5 grams of sugar or six grams of saturated fat per 100 grams of product, starting next January.

The importers asserted that the Israeli requirements have no precedent among major world markets, although Chile began similar requirements less than a year ago.  As a result, global food makers were not prepared to amend their labeling to conform to rules in a single small market like Israel’s.

They added that it violated Israel’s commitment to reducing the regulatory burden on business.