No bread allowed (Illustration)
Good news for Israel's 30,000 celiac sufferers: After previously rejecting a bill to subsidize gluten-free food, the Knesset on Monday approved a bill proposed by Knesset Member Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) to financially support celiac patients for its preliminary reading. The bill was approved in spite of opposition from Finance and Justice Ministry representatives.
According to the proposal celiac patients will receive financial support and aid so that a loaf of gluten free bread would be subsidized and would not cost more than regular white bread.
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Moreover it was suggested that each family be given NIS 500 ($128) reimbursement each month for purchasing special food while the income tax on companies for gluten free food would be limited so that it could not exceed 25%.
The Knesset's Health Committee approved the bill for its preliminary reading in spite of Finance Ministry and Justice Ministry opposition over the high annual cost the law would demand – hundreds of millions of shekels annually.
The bill's detractors also said that gluten free flour prices were already subsidized. The Justice Ministry representative claimed that legislation that singles out one disease is discriminatory.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor has also expressed its objections claiming that there will be no way to enforce the law and supervise prices. MK Rachel Adatto (Kadima) said the claims presented by the state representatives were "absurd."
The bill is a budgetary proposal and so necessitates the support of at least 50 MKs in order for it to pass. Committee Chairman Haim Katz said he would support the bill in spite of the government's opposition and said that the coalition was now wide enough to enable the passing of this type of law.
"I'm happy that Committee Chairman Haim Katz has supported the bill and assisted in getting it sent to its preliminary reading," MK Sheetrit told Ynet.
"Preventing celiac-related diseases also prevents the development of other diseases. Celiac is a harsh illness that can deteriorate to cancer and I believe that the investment will pay for itself even if all we do is prevent people from becoming ill.
"I don't understand why the government continues to oppose a bill that could help tens of thousands of celiac sufferers."
There are currently some 30,000 celiac patients in Israel; celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. The disease is caused by a reaction gluten protein) found in various types of grain.
The bill was approved unanimously and will now be sent to the Knesset plenum.