NEW YORK — The chances are that almost every website of a major kashrus agency includes a guide on how to clean certain vegetables of bugs, which according to Jewish law is forbidden for consumption. Supervising rabbis are routinely trained to check for bugs and some rabbis even insist on trained rabbis to do the checking. Some Israeli rabbis opined that it is virtually impossible to completely clean the produce of bugs.
But Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued a halachic in November that because so-called “bug-free” leafy greens contain a great many pesticides, they present a health risk to those who eat them. Instead, said Rabbi Amar, people should buy leafy vegetables and clean them “in the old-fashioned way” as people have done for generations. The “bug-free” concept was first developed and created in Gush Katif greenhouses, and has made the need to check leafy produce for bugs virtually unnecessary.
Rabbis of the OK Kosher Certification recently reviewed the washing and checking procedures for various produce, including strawberries, scallions, mint and basil. Upon initial inspection, many insects were found in the produce, but after cleaning the produce according to the published OK guidelines, all the produce was found to be completely clean.