Checking for Bugs
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
General Rules of Checking for Bugs
- There are four types of vegetables and fruits with respect to checking bugs.
- Vegetables that the chance of finding a bug in a serving is less than a miyut hamatzuy of bugs is permitted and doesn't need to be checked at all.
- Vegetables that the chance of finding a bug in a serving is more than a miyut hamatzuy of bugs but less than 50% needs to be checked. This obligation is rabbinic. If a person washed the vegetables and afterwards there's less than a miyut hamatzuy there's no longer an obligation to check the vegetables.
- Vegetables that the chance of finding a bug in a serving is 50% needs to be checked and the obligation to check is biblical. If it was cooked without being checked after the fact the food is permitted since it could be that there weren't bugs and it could be that the bugs were crushed.
- Vegetables that the chance of finding a bug in a serving is greater than 50% then they are forbidden until it is completely checked. If it was cooked without being checked it is forbidden.
- With regard to fruits that are supposed to be checked, checking the majority of the fruits is not enough to ascertain that the rest are kosher.
- If one notices a dot (that is not moving) on a fruit or vegetable, but even someone familiar with insects cannot identify it as a bug without a microscope, it would be permitted.
- Most poskim hold that you do not need to use a magnifying glass to check for bugs.
- Even though bugs are disgusting nonetheless it would make a mixture forbidden since it is a living creature and isn't nullified.
- If a hechsher is placed on a vegetable you can assume that it is permissible to eat without further checking unless stated explicitly. This doesn't necessarily mean that there are zero bugs in the bag. Either the hechsher might mean that the vegetable has a instance of infestation less than miyut hamatzuy (10%) and doesn't need checking, they rely upon checking three sample sizes in a larger batch, or they rely upon the washing and checking of the quality control supervisor of the company.
Bugs in Water
- There is a concern for copepods in the New York City tap water. Some hold that the water needs to be filtered before drinking it. As to which filters suffice see Rabbi Dr. David Shabtai RJJ article (v. 49 pp. 38-80).
- The Star-K writes that one should wash the strawberries in soap water and agitate them in the water. Afterwards they should be rinsed, the tops cut off, and no checking is required.
- One shouldn't eat lettuce without checking for bugs. Some say that since such a thorough check is necessary and it is hard to do one shouldn't eat any lettuce besides for Pesach and then just to eat the stalks after checking. However, one could buy greenhouse lettuce which doesn't have as many bugs, check it and rinse it off.
- Some say that it isn't necessary to check triple washed lettuce.
- Cabbage has an issue with bugs. If one checks it very carefully one can eat it.
- Grape leaves are an issue because of bugs and as such one shouldn't eat them unless they are produced with vinegar which removes the bugs. Someone very pious would avoid this altogether.
Chickpeas and Falafel
- If one made falafel without checking the chickpeas they are permitted.
- Making falafel with unchecked chickpeas isn't bitul lechatchila since that isn't your intent to nullify the bugs but just to make the recipe.
- Yalkut Yosef v. 2 p. 212 quotes the Mishkenaot Yakov 17 but seems to conclude that the halacha is like the Rivash 191 that miyut hamatzuy is close to rov. He cites there Bedikat Hamazon p. 181 who quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman as holding like the Mishkenot Yakov, See Shevet Halevi 4:81 who is concerned for less than 10%.
- Badei Hashulchan 100:46 citing Shulchan Aruch 84:8
- Badei Hashulchan 100:46 citing Shach 84:26
- Yalkut Yosef Iser Vheter p. 318 he clarifies that if after washing there was less than a miyut hamatzuy it would be sufficient to wash it without checking it.
- Badei Hashulchan 100:46 citing Shach 84:35
- Badei Hashulchan 100:46
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:36
- Halichos Shlomo Moadim (Pesach), pg. 176 and Shevet HaLevi 7:122
- Aruch HaShulchan YD 84:36, Iggerot Moshe YD II: 146, Halichos Shlomo, Moadim (Pesach) p. 176, and Yechave Daat 6:47.
- Pri Chadash 103:5 and Kaf Hachaim 103:5 unlike the Aruch Hashulchan 103:11. The Pri Chadash proves his point from the Rambam (Machalot Asurot 2:21). The Kaf Hachaim proves his point from the Shulchan Aruch 103:4 and Torat Chatat 85:24 (which was written by the Rama, but the version which is a proof is from an emendation and not the Rama). Some achronim including the Panim Meirot and Chavot Yair agree with the Aruch Hashulchan in explaining the Rama to mean that something isn't a briyah as long as it is now pagum since it is a bug. However, the Gra 103:2 and Pri Chadash 103:5 explain that the Rama is talking about a good tasting food that became spoiled.
- OU Hechsherim on Salads. The source for checking three out of a larger sample is from Tuv Taam Vdaat 1:123.
- See Rabbi Bliech's article in Contemporary Halachic Problems v. 6 ch. 7
- https://www.star-k.org/checking. Rav Shlomo Amar in Shma Shlomo YD 7:4-5 5772 writes that the strict halacha is that any bug that's not visible to the naked eye is permitted and even if it is detectable by its movement it is permitted. Rav Amar explains from many poskim that anything which is so small that it isn't visible to the naked eye it is considered nothing in halacha and not forbidden. He explains that it isn't just because things which are so small are hard to discover and the Torah doesn't expect us to find them with microscopes. Rather they aren't considered anything of significance and are permitted. As such he thinks that strawberries don't need to be checked but it is proper to wash them in soap and water and remove the tops.
- Rav Amar quotes that the Yavetz 2:124 writes that checking for bugs in rice with a magnifying glass or in the sun is a reason to be strict but one shouldn't rule that it is forbidden. Pitchei Teshuva 84:5 and Machzik Bracha 84:41 cite this. Aruch Hashulchan 84:36 holds that seeing something in the sun is considered normal sight unlike seeing through a microscope. Shevet Halevi YD 7:125:2 writes that one has to be concerned with bugs that are visible to someone with good eyes even though a regular person couldn't see it.
- Chayei Halevi YD 3:56:5 quotes that the Chazon Ish held that even bugs that aren't recognizable are forbidden and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach agreed. Rav Amar argues that the Chazon Ish couldn't have said that. From his text Chazon Ish YD 14:6 it could be explained otherwise, only if it is once recognizable and whole but just not recognizable because it is mixed up is it not nullified.
- Rav Amar concludes that if one sees a dot on the strawberry but you can't identify what it is without a microscope or magnifying glass that is also permitted to eat. One doesn't even need to check if it is a bug. Furthermore, even if you see under microscope that it is a bug it is permitted.
- Binat Adam 38:49, Aruch Hashulchan 84:36, Yachava Daat 6:47, Igrot Moshe EH 3:33, and Igrot Moshe YD 2:146 hold that bugs or bacteria that aren't recognizable to the naked eye are permitted to eat. Shemirat Shabbat Khilchata v. 1 ch. 3 fnt. 105 quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman as being strict on bugs that aren't visible because of what he heard about the Chazon Ish's opinion on bugs. Rav Amar quotes this and questions it.
- Yalkut Yosef v. 2 p. 226 writes that one shouldn't eat lettuce without checking it for bugs. But since it is so hard to do a thorough check one shouldn't eat lettuce at all besides for maror on Pesach and just to eat the stalks. However, the greenhouse lettuce is permitted but should still be checked with a normal quick check and a little rinse. He cites many sources that are concerned for bugs on lettuce including: Sefer HaZichronot p. 23, Knesset Hagedola 84:52, Chatom Sofer OC 132, Yehuda Yaaleh 139, Rav Chaim Palagi in Chaim LRosh p. 72, Zivchei Tzedek 84:93, Ben Ish Chai (Shana Sheniya Parshat Naso n. 8; Tzav n. 27), Chazon Ovadia 1:2:657, Kaf Hachaim 84:100. With respect to lettuce with which the planters did something to prevent bugs, he cites Igrot Moshe YD 2:25 that they too should be washed since it is a rov created by an action (Bechorot 20a). Rav Ovadia in Halichot Olam v. 1 p. 294 he writes that it is good to check such lettuce.
- Rabbi Jachter citing Rabbi Mordechai Willig and Rabbi Asher Bush and he concurred.
- Yalkut Yosef Iser Vheter v. 2 p. 235
- Yalkut Yosef v. 2 p. 228 writes tat grape leaves are a big issue for bugs. He quotes numerous sources including: the Mabit 3:46, Machzik Bracha 84:24, Masat Moshe 5, Yad Dovid Di Bitton YD 84:29, Eretz Chaim 84:8, Admat Kodeseh YD 2:1, Bet Dino Shel Shlomo YD 19, Zivchei Tzedek 84:99, Ben Ish Chai Naso n. 8, Kaf Hachaim 84:94. In Admat Kodesh he quotes Maharach Abulafia that one can't compare the infestation of bugs from one place and time to another.
- Yalkut Yosef v. 2 p. 240 writes that if one didn't check chickpeas for bugs and crushed them and made them into falafel they are permitted since one didn't intend to nullify the bugs. But he clarifies that initially the chickpeas needs to be checked even though one is going to make it into something in which it it would be nullified.
- Maharam Rotenburg Prague 190 writes based on Pesachim 30a that using a pot to cook isn't bitul lechatchila if one's intent isn't to nullify the taste of the food. Tosfot Rabbenu Peretz Pesachim 30a says this as well. It is further supported by the Ran Avoda Zara 33b, Rivash 349, Shulchan Aruch 84:13 and Taz. Yalkut Yosef Isur Vheter v. 2 p. 240 holds like this but adds that one should check the chickpeas in advance since it is possible to fix. Halichot Olam Naso p. 271 agrees. He cites further support for this from the Rashba 463, Tzemach Tzedek 51, and others.