Following some two months of intensive deliberations, the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee approved on Wednesday the ”Cornflakes reform,” which eases regulation on dry food importers and 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 expected to pass into law as part of the economic arrangements bill alongside the 2016 state budget by the end of the year.
”This is an exciting day. The welfare and health of the citizens of Israel are expected to improve. The reform is set to reduce the cost of living and bring down the consumer’s cost of food,” committee chairman MK Elie Elalouf said.
”We had Israel`s citizens in mind throughout the dozens of hours of deliberations, particularly the weak populations,” he said. ”This is why we approved dramatic alleviations for importers of dry food, but we did not compromise on the public`s health and tightened supervision.”
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, he 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, which is one of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s key cost-of- living initiatives, 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.