The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has declared that it plans to revoke the kosher certificate of leafy vegetables sprayed with an excessive amount of pesticides or unauthorized substances.
The announcement was made after Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar ruled that eating "bug-free" leafy vegetables posed a health risk due to the increased use of pesticides, and following a move initiated by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger three years ago.
The Rabbinate's Kashrut Enforcement Division said Monday that from now on, vegetable growers will have to be supervised by the Health Ministry as a condition for granting their vegetables kosher certificates.
According to a statement issued by the division, the health risk overrides the halachic prohibition and therefore "this issue must be dealt with and regulated in order to avoid hurting the kashrut observing public in Israel."
The statement added that the Chief Rabbinate and Health Ministry would determine work procedures to supervise the issue in the coming days. All companies growing bug-free leafy vegetables would be required to implement the new procedures as soon as possible.
Additional steps taken by the Rabbinate include publishing a list of companies which have failed to meet the Health Ministry's regulations and revoking the kosher certificates of restaurants buying their vegetables from these companies.
Amar issued a halachic ruling stretching over dozens of pages following lab tests conducted on such crops, in which he recommended that the public purchase regular leafy vegetables and clean them "in the old-fashioned way."
The Rabbinate's ruling may have dramatic consequences, as it could prove to be disastrous for one of the current generation's most significant developments in the field of kashrut.
The halachic-agricultural innovation, generated in the Gush Katif greenhouses, has created a real change in the kosher kitchen, making it almost unnecessary to check leafy vegetables for bugs – a task considered particularly difficult and frustrating.
The rabbi, who presented scientific findings to back his ruling, said that many farmers used prohibited pesticides, or sprayed a much higher dosage than recommended, in a way that put the public's health at risk.
Amar added that there was no reason why consumers buying "bug-free" produce should waste their money for such little benefit at the expense of other basic food products.