Monday, November 21, 2005

Lettuce Entertain You, aka Quit Bugging Us!

Blogroll Me!

Heads-up, everyone:

Debugging of Lettuce Highlight of AKO Conference(New York)

The certification of bagged lettuce (to assure that they do not violate Jewish law by having bugs on them) was the subject of one of the key sessions of the annual Convention of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) on November 17 th at the national headquarters of the Orthodox Union. More than 70 Kashrus officials representing 55 international members of AKO attended the post Kosherfest convention. The two-hour session on lettuce was led by Rabbi Moshe Heineman of the Star-K, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky of the OU, Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger of Ches-K, Rabbi Lenny Steinberg of the OU, as well as the certifying rabbis at Bodek.

In an article in Kashrus Kurrents, a newsletter published by the Star-K Certification of Baltimore, Rabbi Tzvi Rosen hails the contemporary practice of washing and treating lettuce. He writes: “Aggressive washing and chemical treatments in the wash water removes and reduces the risk of the introduction of spoilage bacteria and pathogens. Fortunately for the kosher consumer, the same techniques that reduce bacterial presence will also remove toyloim, infestation.”

In addition to lettuce certification, the convention reviewed many important issues, according to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane of the Chicago Rabbinical Council who heads AKO. The convention opened with a message from Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union. The deliberations included a comprehensive review of European standards in kashrus, new concepts in food technology and how it affects innocuous ingredients, possible hazards to a mashgiach in tasting the various bittering agents in food processors, the concern of supplying the public with Pesach information without thorough visitations to the manufacturing facility, challenges and suggestions in certifying restaurants and caterers, values and standards of a mashgiach, and being more effective through the use of the Universal Data Base.

In addition to representatives of the OU, participating agencies at the meeting included the Star K and OK Labs, and rabbinical groups and Vaadim from all over the United States, Canada, and even London, England, as well as other interested observers.

Hmm...I wonder what kind of salad was served for lunch that day. I mean, a two-hour session on lettuce and bugs might not leave you with much of an appetite!


PsychoToddler said...

The Rabbi in my shul (who was at the conference), actually got up this shabbos and said that until further notice, salads and vegetables are no longer kosher, regardless of whether they are pre packaged or fresh, and regardless of whether they have a hechsher.

One lady asked about her vegetable kugel. She was told not to serve it.

torontopearl said...

PT, we have a Kosher dairy restaurant nearby that for months has been serving Caesar salads made with iceberg lettuce instead of Romaine.
The mashgiach has some "bug" in his head about serving up Romaine. Based on what you said, I'm afraid the next time I go in and order a Caesar salad, I might just be handed a plate that offers up some Feta cheese with some croutons and dressing...and no vegetables!

heebnvegan said...

Oy gevalt. That's all I can say!

A Simple Jew said...

Perhaps if it was decided that bread was no longer kosher it would help your diet ;)

PsychoToddler said...

I had a post all ready to go about this but could not find any adequate info on the net about it. Not at, and not at CRC. Rav Heinemann's site states that prepackaged lettuce is ok.

So I didn't post it because I'm hoping that the Rabbi is misinterpreting (chas veshalom) what was said at the conference. You'd think that if all salads/cabbage/spinach/broccoli etc were no longer kosher that they'd go out of their way to publicise it!

I'll hold off and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, aside from the health concerns that I have, the real problem that I see is it creating yet another source of division, akin to the satmer shchita or cholov yisroel business.

"Oh, you have salad in your house? I don't think we can eat by you anymore."

It just sickens me. I did email various kosher organizations for clarification. Still waiting for replies. But it seems to me that Jews were eating salads for 3000 years without the benefit of pesticides or magnifying glasses, and we should be able to continue.

PsychoToddler said...

I just spent 20 minutes on the phone with a RAbbi from the Star-K. I'll write something up soon.

A Simple Jew said...

PT: I look forward to reading your posting.

PsychoToddler said...

For various reasons of my own, I'm going to table this for now. I want to see how the dust settles. But from my discussion with the Star K, I'm very happy relying on Rav Heinemann's hashgacha, and he says that US produce is the most bug-free in the world. Israel is where the infestation problems are.