Aesthetically, or to avoid the feeling of “ugh,” no one wants to eat bugs. Jewish law takes the revulsion one step further -- halacha prohibits eating insects. The rub, given the tininess of the creatures, is how do you find them and then how do you get rid of them?
Once again, OU Kosher has the answers. Just in time for Passover, the Orthodox Union has published the third edition of the OU Manual for Checking Fruits & Vegetables, following the well-received versions of 2004 and 2007. According to Rabbi David Bistricer, the OU Rabbinic Coordinator who served as general editor, many people check their own produce for the holiday, for example, romaine lettuce for the maror (bitter herbs), so the manual will come in handy right now, as well as throughout the year.
This manual, along with those that have been published in the last few years on baked goods, fish and oil, with food service now in preparation, emphasizes the commitment of the OU under the leadership of OU Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack and COO Rabbi Moshe Elefant to serve the interests of the Jewish community. Rabbi Moshe Zywica, Executive Rabbinic Coordinator-Director of Operations manages the various aspects of the manual project and Rabbi Yaakov Luban, Executive Rabbinic Coordinator, is the editor, providing helpful advice and suggestions.
This latest manual details OU policies in the area of insects as they relate to fruit and vegetable inspection and also explains what doesn’t have to be checked. There is an updated summary chart, as well as responsa in Hebrew by the OU Kosher poskim, Rav Yisroel Belsky and Rav Hershel Schachter. Since the manual is intended for both professionals and for home use, “there’s something in there for everybody,” Rabbi Bistricer says.
“The goal of OU Kosher is not only providing the highest standards of kosher certification to the widest audience possible,” explained Harvey Blitz, Chair of the OU Kashrut Commission, “but also to provide kosher education on all levels not only through our publications, but through our extensive and growing programs in which OU Kosher rabbonim share their expertise with groups ranging from yeshiva children to senior rabbis. The OU Manual for checking Fruits and Vegetables, therefore, is yet another step in our expanded goal of educating the kosher consuming public.”
Insects don’t change, but conditions do -- that is why there is a third edition of the manual, Rabbi Bistricer explains. “The nature of the industry is very fluid so our policies change based on the facts on the ground. Infestation by nature varies from season to season and location by location. It is something we need to constantly keep on top of -- it changes from one moment to the next.”
The manual is remarkably comprehensive, with sections on methods of checking specific vegetables (from artichokes to sugar snap pea pods); pre-washed vegetables; garnishing; frozen and canned vegetables; berry and fruit inspection; dried fruits; nuts and grain; fish; and commercial checking. The booklet is copiously illustrated, including photos of the insects -- the blueberry maggot, cabbage worm, fly, lettuce aphid, spider mite, thrip, vegetable leaf miner, and spinach flea beetle. An appendix lists the limits at which the Food and Drug Administration regards food products as adulterated from infestation.
Copies of the manual may be obtained at www.ou.org/oupress, and at Judaica stores everywhere.
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