May 4, 2009

Mashgichim and Housewives Learn to Check for Bugs

New York…A kosher supervisor (mashgiach) at a restaurant in Flatbush says that he is asked more often about the vegetables that are served than the kashrus of the meats. In fact, he says, some people want him to go into great detail as to how the vegetables were washed and checked. According to Jewish law, it is forbidden to eat bugs. Many mashgichim nowadays routinely check vegetables for bugs and sometimes have workers triple wash the veggies to assure that not even a residue of a bug is left. Although most kosher consumers nowadays purchase the pre-washed vegetables, from such companies as Bodek, some housewives (and in some cases their husbands) are checking for bugs at home. Most of the large kashrus agencies have programs in place to train their mashgichim and members of the community on how to check for bugs.

The Orthodox Union recently released a DVD, “Insect-Free: A Guide to Home Vegetable Inspection.” The 90 minute video by Rabbi Yosef Eisen the Rabbinic Administrator of the Vaad Hakashrus of the Five Towns & Rockaway, walks the viewer through the process of checking vegetables for bugs. Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, declared, “Because since the days of Rachel Carson the Federal government quite correctly has limited the use of insecticides on food, there has been an increase in insects found in vegetables. Therefore, knowing how to check for these insects has become increasingly important. The prohibition in Jewish law of eating insects is particularly severe and this DVD is a hands-on way of checking vegetables to make sure they are acceptable.”
The Flatbush mashgiach said that one customer had actually brought a light box with him to the restaurant. “It was quite a sight to see him testing the vegetables that I had checked with his light box. In the end, he gave me a clear vote of confidence.”