February 3, 2009

Concern Over Raisins a Major Focus of Kashrus Agencies

Chicago…When local kashrus committees (Vaadim) meet in West Palm Beach later this month, one of the key topics will be the alleged bug infestation of raisins. The conference is sponsored by AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations), which has already held several emergency meetings on the raisins issue and has thus far concluded that raisins may be eaten without further inspection. But AKO officials noted that the issue was still being studied by experts and rabbis. In a statement the Orthodox Union (OU) restated its long-standing position that raisins may be eaten without inspection but warned that “many food items, when packed or stored in warm, moist or unclean environments should be avoided until fully checked for the presence of insects, particularly when exhibiting telltale signs of infestation (webbing, insect feeding damage).” The OU position was shared by the Williamsburg-based Central Rabbinical Congress. But the OU position was not shared by K'hal Adath Jeshurun (KAJ) which said that its inspection of several brands of raisins showed that many were infested, including some originating from abroad. “Our Rabbinate decided that the problem is prevalent enough to warrant notifying our membership, as well as establishments under our supervision, that they refrain from using raisins until further notice,” KAJ said in a statement. The statement further noted “that in the future, supervision on the production of raisins will -as a matter of course- include checking for infestation by many kashrus agencies. Given the recent publicity on the matter, it is likely that raisins will become standardized as an item checked for infestation in line with strawberries and vegetables which need checking, for instance."