Fresh from the Field: Staying Up To Date On Insect Checking/Bedikas Tolayim Part 1

Halachic issues of infestation in many of the fruits and vegetables that we consume are well known. Much has been written and said about these issues, albeit to various degrees of halachic stringency. This article will focus on the methods used to monitor this evolving industry. Doing so requires both monitoring of the various produce items, as well as keeping track of their sources on an ongoing basis. This is easier said than done! We will explore the challenges inherent in accomplishing these objectives and discuss some of the more recent items that have surfaced on the infestation radar screens.

The world of entomology is ever evolving. Chaza”l1 stress the importance of knowing the facts in each locale, as the variables that affect insects and infestation change constantly. It used to be that due to their short shelf-life, produce was mainly sourced locally. Knowing the infestation issues inherent in each location […]

Bug Checking Kit

The STAR-K Bug Checking Kit includes everything you need to properly check your produce for insects.

The bug checking bundle includes:

17″x20″ reusable fine mesh thrip cloth

40×25 mm LED-illuminated folding jeweler’s loupe, battery operated with on/off switch

STAR-K’s full-color laminated bug checking chart

Price: $16

Purchase Options

Order directly from Judaica Spot.

Available locally at the Seforim Nook, 7006 Reisterstown Road, in the Colonial Village Shopping Center in Pikesville.

Information about purchasing STAR-K light boxes can be found here.

Folding 25mm Loupe

LED light
40X magnification suitable for helping with bug checking
25mm precision ground lenses
Color corrected and optically corrected lenses for a non-distorted view
Made of plastic and chrome-plated metal with glass lenses
Includes storage case and battery.
The cost of the loupe is $7.50 + S&H

To order a loupe click here


Thrip Cloth (Shmatte Bedika) Tutorial

Instructions on Using a Kosher Vegetable Checking Cloth

Wash produce well. (Note: Use warm water for broccoli and cauliflower.)
Prepare a basin with water and a non-bleach and non-toxic dishwasher detergent solution. The water should feel slippery.
Agitate the produce in the solution for 15 seconds. (Note: For broccoli and cauliflower, soak for 30 seconds BEFORE agitating.)
Remove the produce from the basin and shake off excess water over the basin.
Pour water through the thrip cloth.
Check the thrip cloth over a light box for any insects.
If insects are found, repeat steps 1-6. This can be done up to three times. If insects are still found on the third try, the produce should not be used.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A THRIP CLOTH: Check the water for infestation by placing a white basin over a light box.


STAR-K Light Box

The STAR-K Light Box is a user-friendly tool that will greatly simplify your bug-checking needs.

The light box’s design includes STAR-K’s full-color BUG CHECKING CHART on the reverse side, with clear instructions for how to check every category of produce.

The side panel displays high-resolution, color images of COMMON INSECTS FOUND ON PRODUCE to give users a handy reference guide to help identify the type of bugs they might find while checking.

Additionally, the light box features:

LED light with adjustable brightness

a large, neutral surface

waterproof surface and casing

Price: $65

Purchase Options

Order directly from Judaica Spot.

Available at the Seforim Nook, 7006 Reisterstown Road, in the Colonial Village Shopping Center in Pikesville. Call 410-840-7677 for more information.

In-person pickup at the STAR-K office. Call 410-484-4110 for more information.

Information about purchasing bug checking kits can be found here.

Why Check for Insects?

As we sit down to enjoy a crisp, green salad or prepare to garnish a dish with a fresh sprig of parsley, probably the last thing on our minds at that time is insects. But insects should actually be foremost on our minds, as the act of eating insects, as we shall explain here, violates a very serious set of prohibitions. Let’s start from the beginning.

The Torah expressly forbids Jews from eating insects (tolayim). In Leviticus 11:41, we are told, “And every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth is a detestable thing; it shall not be eaten.” Any food known to be subject to insect infestation, therefore, cannot be eaten until the insects have been removed.

But what if you’re not sure? What is the status of a food item that is only suspected of containing an insect? Are you obligated to check the item to determine the presence of an insect, or can […]