Summary of OU Insect Checking Policies

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  • Fruits, vegetables or berries that are expected to possibly contain insects must be checked prior to use. The minimum rate of infestation that requires checking is 10%.
  • Magnification is not required when checking, although it may be used as an aid for training purposes or to help check faster. Insects that cannot be properly identified whatsoever unless magnification is used, are permitted.
  • When checking is required, the entire vegetable, fruit, or berry must be checked. When checking large quantities from the same case, it may be permissible to check samples from a single batch. The minimum amount of sampling units is three.
  •  Whole insects are not botel (nullified) in a food mixture.
  • It is permissible to puree fruits, vegetables, or berries that only occasionally harbor insects, if pureeing is part of following a recipe and the intent is not to eliminate insects.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and berries that are thoroughly dried in a hot oven do not require checking and are permitted.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and berries that only occasionally harbor insects, which are cooked and cannot be checked afterward are permissible.
  • Washing systems cannot be relied upon to reduce infestation, unless they are adequately proven to be effective.
  • Raisins may be consumed without checking.
  • It is permissible to place herbs in a garnet bag and cook them in soup, without checking.
  • Worms found embedded in the flesh of fish are permitted. Worms found in the stomachs or head are prohibited.
  • Dry goods, including but not limited to: barley, beans, flour, oatmeal and white rice, are generally free from insect infestation when properly stored. Proper storage conditions require keeping these items in a cool and clean environment. This applies to distributor warehouses, stores, and even one’s home.

There can be occasional, but infrequent infestation outbreaks when dry goods are stored improperly or for prolonged periods. Adequate preemptive measures should be taken to prevent this possibility. This entails ensuring that the storage area is clean and at a controlled temperature. Packages kept in the back of a kitchen pantry for a long time will be more prone to infestation. When storing items for extended periods, it’s recommended to keep them in an airtight, hard plastic container or in a cooler/freezer. It’s also recommended that one check any of these items as a precaution prior to use. For example, barley can be placed on a white paper plate and sifted through with one’s fingers.

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by Rabbi Dovid Bistricer
Rabbinic Coordinator
Israel, Nestle, Salad Dressings, Sauces, Vegetables

OU Kosher Staff