The Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday will discuss a law proposed by MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) that will require manufacturers to label food products with expiration dates based on the Jewish calendar. In the event that they wish to include the secular calendar date, both dates can be listed, but the Hebrew date must be listed first.
The Bizness news site quoted MK Rabbi Asher as saying, “Listing the expiration date of food products is very important for consumers, as it is the best way for consumers to know if the food they are getting is fresh.” With many Israelis utilizing chiefly the Hebrew date as their frame of reference, “including that date will ensure that the largest number of consumers will be able to get the information they need.” The bill is supported by fellow UTJ MKs Rabbi Moshe Gafni and Rabbi Uri Maklev.
The bill had previously been proposed by Deputy Education Minister Rabbi Meir Porush, but was removed from the Knesset’s agenda. Food manufacturers said that the bill would be difficult to implement, as the machines that they use to stamp expiration dates on labels are all automated, based on the secular calendar. An additional issue is the 13th leap year month on the Jewish calendar, which labeling systems as they are currently used cannot accommodate. It should be noted that according to Israeli law, all government documents are required to list the Hebrew date as the primary one, and the Knesset, courts and government utilize the Hebrew date for correspondence, decisions and lawmaking.