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Jewish Recipes --> Jewish Cooking Terms / Dictionary --> Treif --> Insects


Insects and other invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians

With four exceptions, all insects and other invertebrates (including those usually consumed as seafood), all reptiles, and all amphibians are considered 'loathsome', 'crawling' creatures, and are forbidden as treif (un-kosher).

There are some kosher insects that are types of grasshopper or locust. Ashkenazi and most Sepharadi groups have lost the tradition of which exact species are kosher, but Yemenites and some Sepharadi groups have maintained this tradition and can properly identify them (though to most people the prospect of eating insects is not appealing, rendering this a largely academic point).

The following article from the Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa regarding the way to clean certain vegetables and fruit from



1. Eating Sh’ratzim (non-Kosher creatures) is worse than eating pork!
2. Even creatures that are so small that only a searching eye can detect them are prohibited. If the reason they are not seen is not because they are too small but because they are too elusive, they are obviously forbidden. A concealed creature is still a creature!
3. However, anything that is microscopic is of no concern.
4. There is therefore no obligation to use a magnifying glass to check.
5. Not all foods need to be checked for infestation. Where the occurrence is classified as rare, there is no need to check. Examples: apples, pears, bananas, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes.
6. But where the occurrence is classified as frequent we must check. This includes most leafy vegetables and many fruits.
7. If it's impossible to check properly, we may not eat such items. Example: corn on the cob.
8. It's often difficult to find all infestation. This can be for several reasons:
  • Insects are often very small.
  • They could often be mistaken to be dirt.
  • Many insects have a similar color to the vegetable.
  • Many of them hide between crevices.

9. In some cases, very small worms tunnel into leafy vegetables and can only be noticed by a trail of tunnels.


10. A Jew over the age of Bar / Bat Mitzvah may be relied on to check for infestation if they:
  • know what to look for; and
  • know how to check.

11. A non-Jew may not be relied on even if he's very dependable.

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