The Ministry of Health is embarking on a campaign against processed food, with a direct attack on sugar-rich breakfast cereals, frozen schnitzel, and pastrami. The campaign's slogan is, "Leave processed food alone" (in Hebrew it rhymes). The campaign highlights the advantages of unprocessed food, such as fresh chicken, legumes, and fresh vegetables.
A commercial broadcast on television channels and social media shows a woman shopping in a supermarket. Her son appears on the cover of a package of breakfast cereal and asks her to put the cereal back on the shelf because it is "full of sugar." She tries to persuade the child to take the cereal, saying, " You'll just love it," but her son rebukes her and tells her to put it back.
The woman's husband is then shown holding two packages of frozen schnitzel and asking, "Stars or animals?" His daughter sticks her head out from the package and tells him, "Daddy, it's processed food." Her father answers, "But it's easy to prepare." The daughter says, "So who will keep us healthy?"
The Ministry of Health does not specifically criticize the food companies themselves in the commercial; fictitious names are used for the products. The allusion, however, is clear. The breakfast cereal in the commercial bears the name, "Experiences - breakfast cereals with a sweet filling," which rhymes with the name of a popular product.
The same is true of the imaginary schnitzel product for children, which clearly refers to products made by food manufacturers Tnuva and Osem, as well as a private brand of Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd. (TASE:RMLI).
The pastrami packages shown in the commercial refer to the major manufacturers in this category, such as Soglowek, Tirat Zvi (Tnuva), Off Tov, and Yehiam.
Several popular processed food products are nevertheless absent from the commercial, as shown so far. For example, sweetened soft drinks, which are very popular among children according to figures published by the Ministry of Health, do not appear in the commercial. The same is true of packaged salads, which have been severely criticized for similar reasons.
Such advertising campaigns have had a dramatic effect in the past on sales in categories portrayed as unhealthy. The companies whose products are portrayed in the commercial will at least feel very uncomfortable with the campaign, and they may well take action to have it removed.
With his term in office about to end and elections looming, Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman issued a press release yesterday saying, "We are committed to nutritional change. We began the term by marking nutritional value on food, and we are utilizing all the means at our disposal to bring about change."
Ministry of Health director general Moshe Bar Siman Tov added, "We are teaching values, correct habits, and awareness to the general public. We regard it as a value statement, and a major contribution to continuing public discourse on the matter."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 12, 2019
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