Well, it was nice being Israel’s ally while it lasted: Per a new ruling by the country’s Health Ministry, that red (amazing) stuff Heinz has been calling “ketchup” since 1876 is now nothing of the sort over there. Henceforth, bottles are to be labeled “tomato seasoning.” The official explanation is that a standard bottle of Heinz doesn’t have enough tomato paste to qualify it under Israel’s definition of the condiment, which requires at least 10 percent tomato solids. (Heinz contains almost half that — 6 percent.)
It turns out a Heinz rival is at the root of this sacrilege (surprise, surprise). Osem, Heinz’s major Israeli competitor, conducted its own vigilante lab tests back in January, and used them to show government officials that Heinz’s bottles didn’t hit the tomato cutoff. Ever since, it’s been doggedly lobbying retailers to yank Heinz from shelves — or at the very least, to not place it in the vicinity of the ketchup section.
Heinz tells Newsweek the problem is simply that “the Israeli standard for ketchup has yet to be brought in line with U.S. and European accepted international standards.” (Ouch!) The good news is that the government’s ruling only affects bottles in Hebrew; Heinz labels printed in English can still say “ketchup.”