Pasta dish [illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Wednesday paved the way for passage of “the Cornflakes reform,” one of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s key costof- living initiatives.
The reform, which is expected to pass into law as part of the economic arrangements bill alongside the 2016 state budget by the end of the year, eases regulation on dry food importers. It aims to make it cheaper and easier to put items such as cereals and grains produced abroad on the local market and increase competition.
“The reform is set to reduce the cost of living and bring down the consumer’s cost of food,” committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf said.
The annual savings, which are estimated to be in the hundreds of shekels per year per family, are expected to disproportionately help the poor, who spend an increasing share of their income on food, Alalouf added.
The 221-page bill, which will go into effect six months after its passage, will ease regulation in several ways. Importers will no longer be required to present original documentation from the food producer, and will be entitled to a one-day turnover time for bringing in food once they have declared their legal compliance.
To counter concerns over food safety, the reform will increase penalties for violations such as selling food unfit for human consumption, use of prohibited additives and ingredients, and mislabeling. A judge will be able to impose fines up to NIS 900,000 or two years imprisonment for violators, and the Health Ministry will be able to impose financial sanctions of between NIS 8,000 and NIS 40,000.
The reform will keep regulatory standards tough on sensitive items such as baby food, meat and dairy products and dietary supplements.
The reform will also change regulation of locally produced meat, which will no longer be tested during the transport process.
Instead, there will be increased veterinary supervision at factories and points of sale.
The reform was modeled on EU and US regulations.