Israeli Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) has launched a sharp attack against fast food chain McDonald’s, telling a Tuesday conference on cardiology: “McDonald’s Out. Not in our country,” Israel’s Channel 10 News reported. “We must educate our children not to eat junk food,” the minister added.
Litzman also said, “I know they’ll yell at me behind my back and will say, ‘They’re giving away alcoholic drinks at the health ministry.’ [Nevertheless,] we mustn’t east so many candies. It [will prevent] diabetes, and it [will prevent] heart illnesses. That’s what we’re going to do in the year to come — prevention.”
Litzman, who is widely considered the most effective and reliable health minister, just as he used to be considered the Knesset’s top legislator, acknowledged that his statements would anger many entities: “I know that there are pressures and I know there are people who don’t like [what I’m saying], including large companies. I have a secret for you: I don’t get elected through primaries. I chose [to serve at] the health ministry because I figured it’s a place where we can save lives.”
The president of the Israel Heart Society, Professor Michael Glikson, also emphasized at the conference the importance of prevention in treating heart disease. “It’s true that over the past few years we’ve succeeded in reducing heart disease mortality, but heart attacks and cardiac arrest still claim the lives of tens of thousands of Israelis every year, much more than do terror attacks and car accidents,” he said, adding, “A significant portion of heart diseases can be detected early and prevented. We hope that the health ministry will help us increase awareness of this issue, to help save lives.”
The McDonald’s chain in Israel issued a statement saying they had undergone a “nutritional revolution” over the past year and are considered by nutrition experts and doctors to be the “healthiest restaurant chain in Israel.” In fact, according to the chain, Minister Litzman and his aides only last week had met with Israel McDonald’s owner Dr. Omri Padan, who updated them about the changes that were instituted, including reducing by half the fat in the meat, removing trans fats from the french fries, reducing saturated fats by two-thirds in the fried products, reducing sugar and nitrates in all the products and posting the ingredients of each and every product being sold by the chain. They also promote drinking water for children.
Then the chain’s press release delivered a jab at the ultra-Orthodox health minister, saying they hope his attack hadn’t been spurred by the fact that their restaurants are open on Shabbat.
In the past, Israel McDonald’s owner Padan, one of the founders of Peace Now, was accused of supporting pro-Palestinian NGOs and canceling the 15% off for IDF soldiers in uniform. The chain has denied the latter.