Checking Fruits & Vegetables: Halachic Positions of Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Belsky zt”l

1. One is obligated to inspect fruits and vegetables that commonly contain insects prior to use. A 10% likelihood of infestation is a guidepost to help assess what is considered common. If people generally expect to find insects in certain fruits or vegetables, infestation is a common occurrence. However, if people would be surprised to find insects in certain fruits or vegetables, it’s an uncommon occurrence.

2. Assessing what is considered common or uncommon depends upon the circumstances of each situation. This depends upon the chances of finding insects in a “unit” of measure that is reasonable for each specific case. The “unit” can be individual fruits or vegetables, or can also depend on how the product is sold (e.g.‐individual containers), provided that it’s sensible for the particular situation.

3. The “unit” of measure does not fluctuate based on higher quantities that are used in different environments. The unit of measure remains consistent throughout and is the same in a person’s home, at a restaurant, or in a factory.

4. When inspecting large quantities at a restaurant, it is permissible to rely on sampling for a chazakah check. When inspecting very large quantities at a factory, it is also permissible to rely on statistical sampling in lieu of a chazakah check.

5. It is not necessary to inspect fruits or vegetables in a way that is considered excessive or extraordinary to check for insects. For example, it’s not necessary to cut corn from the cob.

6. There are new different and innovative methods to check fruits and vegetables. Any method that is proven to be effective is acceptable. Someone more comfortable and experienced with checking according to the traditional method “on the leaf” may continue to do so.

7. One is not obligated to check fruits and vegetables with magnification. Miniscule insects that can’t possibly be identified at all without using magnification are permitted. Magnification can be used as a way of saving time.

8. Someone that has especially keen eyesight must certainly avoid insects that he can see but others cannot. However, this does not automatically mean that those insects are forbidden for others.

9. Fruits and vegetables that are thoroughly dehydrated in an oven do not require checking.

10. Raisins do not require checking.

11. Fresh strawberries may be inspected and thoroughly washed prior to consumption. It is not necessary to always crush or puree them.

12. Cooked sauces containing fresh herbs in miniscule amounts do not pose a concern for insects.

13. White dots (“scales”) found on fresh blueberries are not problematic.

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