Food companies have agreed not to market foods high in sugar, fat or sodium to children. But it seems that the Strauss-Elite group is not applying that pledge to the Haredi media. Ahead of Purim, they are marketing sweets to children.
One ad published by Strauss in a Haredi newspaper features illustrated figures standing over a basket of sugary sweets and the caption reads: “How sweet, the boy is dressed as Mordechai and is distributing unlimited sweets.” Does Strauss want children to eat unlimited amounts of sugary snacks?
The company has not published such ads in media geared toward the general public. The Facebook page of Elite makes no mention of Purim, certainly not in the context of children and sweets, although they are marketing snack packages in the supermarkets in a manner that may be appealing to children.
Seemingly, anything goes in the Haredi media. Another food company, Lev’s, is also marketing sweets to children. One of their colorful ads asks children to place the candy in the Purim packages and “sweeten your surroundings,” while the text is complete with vowels to appeal to children.
In June of 2018, the union of food manufacturers publicized their commitment to responsible advertising to children following the Health Ministry’s declared intention of labeling foods considered harmful. It stated that advertising geared toward children will encourage responsible and balanced consumption in recognition of the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle for children.
A press release by the companies at the time stated: “We will abstain from marketing foods that are intended to be labeled (as unhealthy) to children under the age of 12… in accordance with public health protection regulations. Barring the ability to accurately determine what percentage of the target audience is below the age of 12, the food manufacturers will make every effort to use language and a tone that is not aimed at children or intended to attract their attention.”
The commitment was intended to apply to all forms of media; newspapers play a central role in the Hardei sector.
In response, Strauss said that the pertinent newspaper, Hamodia, is not geared toward children and that the term “unlimited” is a reference to a term used in the Megillah scroll (the Book of Esther) which is customarily read in synagogues on Purim.