Why did the Health Ministry pull its viral snack video?

June 6, 2016  

In recent weeks the Health Ministry aired a new campaign calling on the public to avoid sodium saturated snacks, and as part of the effort it aired a video exposing the health hazards of popular Israeli junk food.

Channel 2 reported on Monday that an agreement was made between the state and the food companies that produce the snacks, according to which the campaign will be cancelled and instead the companies will publish the unhealthy nutritional facts in a highly visible manner on the packaging.

According to the agreement all the facts regarding fats, sodium, sugars and unhealthy ingredients will be emphasized on the front of the packaging of the snacks.

For its part the Health Ministry stopped broadcasting the video on TV and removed it from its website as well. The campaign had become viral and reached hundreds of thousands of views online.

The video, which warns against the various diseases caused by eating unhealthy snacks with high sodium content and suggests snacking on fruits and vegetables instead, can be viewed in Hebrew below from the Ministry’s YouTube channel.

In the footage popular Israeli snacks such as Bisli, Bamba, Beigale, and Tapuchips in addition to soy sauce and ketchup are presented as being heavy in sodium and therefore liable to lead to high blood pressure, stomach cancer and heart disease.

The one-minute-long clip succeeded in worrying the large food companies which, fearing a drop in sales, asked the Health Ministry to stop spreading the video.

It was first reported by The Marker on Monday that the Health Ministry is canceling the campaign and that the food companies intend to mark the unhealthy nutrition facts in an eye-catching manner on the packaging, and Channel 2 later learned that a deal had been struck.

The Manufacturers Association of Israel’s Food Union claimed in response to the report that “no query was made to the Health Ministry, and no type of negotiation was held with it on a request to remove the video.”

“The Association will continue to formulate its positions on the matter, and those positions will be presented before the Health Ministry’s regulation committee, and not in the form of baseless and irresponsible news items like this.”

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