Heinz Ketchup Banned in Israel; It Doesn’t Contain Enough Tomatoes-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Heinz ketchup has been banned in Israel because it doesn’t contain enough tomatoes to be called “ketchup” under Israeli food standards.
Israel hasn’t banned Heinz ketchup, but the country’s health ministry required the brand to start labeling some products as “tomato seasoning” instead of ketchup in 2015.
Osem, the biggest ketchup producer in Israel and Heinz’s biggest competitor there, stirred up the controversy. In January 2015, Osem CEO Nizan Goldberg sent a letter to retailers that claimed independent testing showed that Heinz Tomato Ketchup contained far less tomato concentrate than its labels claimed:
We wish to bring it to your attention that we recently discovered that the product marketed as Heinz 700g ketchup only contains about 21% tomato concentrate and not the 61% tomato concentrate as advertised on the product. The product has been tested in a leading European external laboratory, which produced these findings.
The incorrect indication of tomato concentrate in the products severely misleads the Israeli consumer public and is a violation of the provisions of the law to protect consumers.
This information has also been sent to the Diplomat company and the authorities. Moreover, under Israeli law, the presence of lower quantities of fortified tomato concentrate prevents the product from being called ketchup and it cannot be sold as such.
Diplomat, the company that distributes Heinz ketchup in Israel, fired back with a strongly worded statement of its own:
“Obviously, Osem, which has a monopoly, would be happy if it were only possible to sell their product in Israel. But Osem’s claims have no substance.”
By August 2015, however, Israel’s Health Ministry sided with Osem. The health ministry ruled that Hebrew language Heinz labels could no longer identify the product as ketchup because it didn’t meet minimum tomato concentrate standards. Instead, Heinz has to identify the product as “tomato seasoning” on Hebrew language labels. The health ministry’s ruling did not apply to English language labels, however.
In an email to Newsweek, Heinz said Israeli customers continue to enjoy its ketchup despite it being reclassified in the country:
“Ketchup fans in Israel continue to enjoy Heinz Tomato Ketchup, the world’s favourite ketchup first created by Heinz in 1876.”
“The word ketchup is indicated in English on the front of the bottle while recognizing that the Israeli standard for ketchup has yet to be brought in line with U.S. and European accepted international standards, the back label of our ketchup sold in Israel reflects current local requirements for ingredient labelling and the Hebrew name for the product.”
And the fight between Osem and Heinz is far from over. Heinz has reportedly petitioned the health ministry to change the country’s tomato solids requirements for ketchup, and the health ministry is apparently on board with that.
So, it’s not true that Heinz ketchup has been banned in Israel. It is true, however, that Heinz is embroiled in a food fight with a competition that led to the health ministry’s decision to re-classify Heinz ketchup as Heinz tomato seasoning. That’s why we’re calling this one truth and fiction.