**We now have factual information with details the professional kashrus world was never aware of before. These facts have been substantiated through very thorough testing. Therefore, as noted, when reading instructions on how to clean particular produce items, one might erroneously feel that the instructions are “radical, extreme, and overly onerous.” The methods used above have been reviewed, tested, and discussed with many people in the kashrus field, reflect a standard of very well-researched information, and are logical and balanced standards in the area of תולעים בדיקת. These instructions were written through the spectrum of corroborated fact by qualified professionals and are presented with the end user in mind. Every step taken in preparing the produce items is included in fulfilling the mitzvah of “והתקדשתם“.והייתם קדושים
As with everything else, ירקות בדיקת requires education. One should not assume that one’s desire to avoid transgressing the prohibition of eating insects qualifies one to wash and inspect produce properly.In the past, the operative method in cleaning leafy vegetables, specifically romaine and similar items, was to soak them in a vinegar or salt solution to dislodge insects that might have been on the surface. Following this soaking, the leaves were rinsed off. As noted above, this method was carefully studied by Rav Moshe Vaye, the world’s expert in the area of ירקות בדיקת, who concluded the most comprehensive and effective method is to use a soapy solution that is then washed off. Education in the field of inspecting fresh produce consists of practical knowledge of and familiarity with 1) the type of insect in that particular produce item 2) the insects’ appearance 3) the location in the produce where they are found and 4) how to remove them. The understanding of these four components can be achieved via several venues:
1. From time to time, classes or workshops are given by kashrus experts who instruct and demonstrate the various methods of identifying, cleaning, and checking a wide variety of fresh produce. By attending these classes, one can begin to acquire the necessary knowledge to wash and check produce in one’s own home.
2. Rav Moshe Vaye, the world’s expert in the area of ירקות בדיקת, authored the sefer כהלכה המזון בדיקת: a three-volume set that is an encyclopedia of information, with very helpful and graphic pictures, on the topic of insects in fresh produce. These books give the reader in-depth background and deep insight into the entire subject of ירקות בדיקת. However, it is important to note that Rav Vaye’s sefarim were specifically designed for ישראל ארץ, while the infestation levels of some produce items outside of ישראל ארץ can differ from those found in ישראל ארץ. Nonetheless, the information regarding the actual types of insects found in the various types of produce is very informative and accurate.
3. Several hashgachos have authored pamphlets describing their hashgachah’s own standards and methodology of how to check many produce items; this is such a pamphlet. The purpose of these pamphlets is to provide simple step-by-step guidelines for cleaning and inspecting produce.
After availing oneself of one or more of these venues, one can then actually begin washing and checking one’s produce.
Some people wonder what changed over the years that necessitates such vigorous washing and inspecting procedures. They also wonder why many of these procedures were not heard about in the past nor were they followed by earlier generations. The answer is quite simple. More than 15 years ago, the government placed very stringent restrictions and controls on the use of insecticides; the best-known is DDT. This ban was the result of years of research that proved a very strong link between the use of DDT-sprayed vegetables and cancer. The high levels of carcinogens present in these insecticides were not only effective in killing insects, but they were also proven to contribute to the infamous “silent killer.” The absence of these powerful insecticides, which had been liberally used in the agriculture industry, resulted in an unprecedented number of insects crawling into all sorts of produce. Although farmers do use some degree of approved insecticides, nevertheless, they are greatly limited. This has created a greater challenge for the consumer, who must remove the insects inhabiting the produce.
Two additional factors significantly contributed to the increase in insect presence. The first is that today we eat a very wide range of vegetables, herbs, and berries that were not used in the past. Many of these vegetables and herbs are specialty items that are commonly served by upscale caterers and food establishments. Some of these, such as micro herbs and micro flowers, can be overwhelmingly infested.
Another factor that contrasts the past with the present is the availability of produce in America. The produce is grown all over the world and imported to the United States. The produce import business is a large and thriving one, providing our local markets with fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown throughout the world. (For this reason, some poskim do not suggest a שהחיינו ברכת on unusual fruits, due to the fact that they are available throughout the year.)
It is also important to note that Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky zt”l once shared with one of the well-known rabbinic experts in the area of תולעים בדיקת, that he personally remembers his grandmother taking certain types of produce outside and visually inspecting them for insect presence. This method of visual inspection in the daylight is brought down.בדיקת תולעים in the halachos of ערוך השלחן סימן פ״ד in the.
In לח כלל in the beginning of ט״ו סעיף, the אדם חכמת goes into detail discussing various types of vegetables and herbs. He discusses the necessity of performing the appropriate בדיקות and in כ סעיף also strongly advises one to look at everything one eats, stating, “It is worthwhile to look at fresh produce that one eats and through this practice he will save himself from ingesting insects.” He concludes on a personal note and says, “I bear testimony regarding myself that many, many times I was saved through this practice.” We see from these two great poskim who discuss the necessity of detailed bedikah that it certainly was an issue that in the past stood front and center in importance even if it was not widely followed.
Date of production can be ascertained by looking at the date code on the outside of the package. Some products have a simple date code (e.g., 20OCT2018, which is October 20, 2018, followed at times by the time of production. Others use the Julian code, which is a series of numbers with January 1 being 1, December 31 being 365. As such, the remaining dates continue accordingly, with September 10 being simply listed as 253, followed by the year. This will enable the reader to ascertain when a product was actually produced.
Years of checking large quantities of commonly used produce have yielded the information presented here. Although below we discuss the psak halachah of the Mishkinos Yaakov (found in the יעקב משכנות שו״תיז סימן דעה יורה), which is followed by many hashgachos, nevertheless; another opinion is reflected by the gedolei haposkim of Eretz Yisrael, who take a different approach to the assessment of Miut Hamatzui. The שו״ת שבט לוי חלק ד סימן כא deals with this question of Miut Hamatzui שו״ת שבט לוי חלק ד סימן כא Rav Vaye in his כהלכה מזון בדיקת ספר quotes the psak of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv זצ״ל, Rav Chaim Kanievsky שליט״א, and Rav Nissim Karelitz שליט״א, who concur and take a more stringent approach to the din of Miut Hamatzui. The most practical and understandable way to define Miut Hamatzui according to those poskim is: “If it would not be considered unusual to find an insect in that produce item, then it is considered a Miut Hamatzui and is required to be inspected.” For example, finding an insect in iceberg lettuce would not surprise us, in contrast to finding a worm in a pepper or cucumber, which would be a surprise. Therefore, iceberg lettuce would be a Miut Hamatzui and peppers or cucumbers would be considered Miut She’aino Matzui.
Mishkinos Yaakov’s percentage used to define the category of produce requiring inspection is 10%. Thus, if 10% of the units (see above) of produce is found to contain insects, that type of produce is categorized as a Miut Hamatzui and must be properly inspected for insects before use. For instance, since insects have been found in at least 10 bunches out of every 100 bunches of green asparagus checked, green asparagus is considered a Miut Hamatzui and must be properly inspected before use. Although most asparagus stems in the 10 checked bunches were not found to contain insects, nevertheless, asparagus is considered Miut Hamatzui because 10% of the bunches did contain insects.
On the other hand, raspberries are an example of a product that is characterized as Muchzak Bitolaim because it has been found, statistically, that of every 10 cartons of raspberries inspected for insects, at least 6 of the cartons contain insects. Because at least 51% of the cartons is found to contain insects, raspberries are considered infested.