Op-ed: Lakewood Experts Regarding Tropicana Orange Juice: OK Laboratories “Not OK” and below Laboratory Standard

Tropicana-Orange-JuiceBy Rabbi Moshe Breslar. There has been claims that citrus scale insects – which are forbidden for a Jewish person to consume – are being found in Tropicana orange juice. In essence, that would make the orange juice non-kosher.

OK Kosher is on the defensive. The OK certifies Tropicana Orange Juice as kosher. OK actually prides itself as giving certification to the Tropicana orange juice. On the OK website they write, “From mom-and-pop manufacturers to food giants such as Kraft, ConAgra, Snapple and Tropicana, OK Kosher provides the highest standard of kosher certification services in the world.”

Rabbi Don Yoel Levy CEO/Kashrus Administrator of the OK laboratories responds unequivocally in the Pesach 5775 issue of The Kosher Spirit, “the OK, Tropicana and independent laboratories and Rabbonim have not found any insects.”

Levy levies a claim that Lakewood water may be infested with scale insects, but not his orange juice. His article states, “I received a video from the person who claimed to find insects (in the Tropicana orange juice). The video showed him straining and checking the orange juice, but his methodology was quite improper. He added water directly from his kitchen faucet to the juice.”

This point was reiterated in the article by Rabbi Ulman of Bnei Brak (wrongly identified in the article that he is of the Eida Hacharedis of Yerushalayim). He writes “I saw his checking done by straining through a cloth. Then he added water to rinse the leftover pulp, which worsens the checking, because even if an insect is found it may be from the water not from the orange juice.”

OK states at the end of its article, “What is most interesting about the supposed issue with Tropicana orange ……” claiming that the whole issue is a fabrication.

Lakewood experts: OK laboratories “not OK” and below laboratory standard

In response to OK’s defense of the orange juice it certifies, a public shiur attended by 150 Bnei Torah was delivered before Pesach in Lakewood. The claim of insects not being found was discounted at the shiur.‎

Many printed signs went up in Lakewood with the heading in Aramaic “SHIKRA LO KOHEE”. This translates as “a lie will not stand”. It went on to discount the claim from the OK. Many insect experts also condemned the article.

‎Regardless on the position one is to take on this issue, it seems that the OK does not provide, “the highest standard of kosher certification services in the world”, as they claim on their website.

Other brands also involved in the controversy

According to many insect experts, other brands of orange juice sold in the United States are also being found with scale insects. However, Tropicana Orange Juice has more insects on average, with 2 insects to every cup. The other brands, many under “Hasidic” certification, have on average 6 insects to the half-gallon bottle.‎

In Israel, it is reported that some kashrus agencies are careful to certify orange juice as kosher only after being declared to be free of scale insects. There are processes that are taken in the production to ensure the final result.

While many thousands are refraining from drinking any orange juice, some are straining the orange juice. According to the many experts, this has been found effective to rid the orange juice of the scale insects.  However they note, it is has been found effective only when using a very fine strainer. This is necessary due to the very small citrus scale insect.

Others are refraining from drinking Tropicana Orange Juice but are drinking other brands of orange juice. This may be faulty reasoning. It may be that they are relying on the “Hasidic” certification that many of them do carry.‎



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There are 19 Comments to "Op-ed: Lakewood Experts Regarding Tropicana Orange Juice: OK Laboratories “Not OK” and below Laboratory Standard"

  • UncleMo says:

    Can we hear what the Lakewood AND general Poskim have to say about this and not just what the Lakewood “experts” have to say? Unfortunately so called “experts” have had many things to say over the years and they are not always Halacha L’Moshe M’Sinai. So can we maybe hear what our POSKIM say about this?

  • Sam says:

    By referring to Rabbi Levy as “Levy claims” the writer of the article reveals his non toradik approach to this whole issue
    Maybe it might be worthwhile to hear from a real Posek

  • Bruce says:

    Who is the “expert” in Lakewood?

  • anonymous says:

    Who gave the public shiur? Who hung up the signs? Why is a frum person writing an article that says “Hasidic”certification?

  • anon says:

    Who are these poisKim and which labs did they use?

    Alot of anonymity without any names. Rabbi Levy at least puts his name on his shiva.

  • New Yorker says:

    The truth is finally out!

    I also sat with an expert in New York and watched him strain and check Tropicana orange juice. You need an expert to show you how to see the bugs in the thick juice, but they are very see-able. After seeing all those bugs, nobody would drink that juice again!

    And by the way, when they say 2 insects a cup, they are talking about WHOLE insects. There are many more insect fragment in each cup too!

    I also was pretty upset when I saw the false claims from the O.K.. But they are not the only ones. Other agencies and also released articles full with fallacies. Their attitude has been, “It;s kosher, we just need to figure out why!”

  • why mudslinging. says:

    I am not a posEK and not picking sides. But when there is a machlokes haposkim or experts, why does “opinions” and ” back stabbing comment” alluding to one saying lies… need to be part of it. State your facts and psak and let the back and forth be civilized.BUT DONT MUDDY THE PSAK WITH DEMEANING COMMENTS.

    As with all “experts” one needs to be an expert in his specific field. A brain surgeon is not a heart surgeon. And therefore on being a expert in one aspect of kashruth does not mean he is an expert in another. Such as one being an expert in Eruvs or Gitten is not an expert in Money matters.. The same here.

    IN addition testing must be done in a controlled scientific environment and withing industry guidelines. Suddenly a person in his home lab ?make them an expert.. Knowing how to use a microscope with filters is not 100% proof. How many times has DNA testing been messed up because the labs did not operate as per guidelines?

    We need to present our alleged claims against someone else with proven scientific controlled labs and THEN present it in a civilized manner at all times- even if its your 100TH time trying to get your point across…



  • Louis says:

    Agree with #2 and 7 otherwise how can you justify the statement that regardless of your position it would seem that ok does not provide the highest level … Obviously if the position would be that it’s mutar there is no lack in kosher level it definitely seems that someone has stepped out of bounds of intelligent debate

  • not oj drinker says:

    we need experts etc – since the ok labs is trying to white wash the whole thing and make believe there are no bugs in the juice, when anybody with a fine strainer can check himself and find bugs. they are making big money and they won’t admit the truth. so buyer beware.
    you can strain you own oj before drinking to avoid problems.

  • Confused says:

    The Gemara says that Rav spent 18 months on a farm in order to pasken correctly on the halachos of a blemish in bechor. I would expect that as soon as such a serious issue is brought up, our responsible morei horaah should drop whatever they are doing and do whatever it takes in order to issue a clear and definitive psak; de’oraisa or de’rebanan; sefaik or vadai etc. So many of us in the frum world, especially many of our young children ka”h, love to drink orange juice and to leave us hanging to like this leaves me confused. We cannot leave it to “someone who went through the sugya” or the kashrus agency who has a stake in it; we need leading morei horaah to write a psak halachah with a lengthy teshuva as a back-up. That is the way it was always done in klal yisrael. Pashkevilin, or its American equivalent, is not the way we pasken!

  • Lakewooder says:

    Does this possibly exist with fresh squeezed oj at home? Should u strain through a cloth? Also why not just ask your rav what u should do?
    I thought u had to see with naked eye with no special treatment?

  • Bugged Out says:

    Scale insects are a HUGE problem for citrus fruits as well as peaches. Some species of scale insects are controlled by releasing parasites into the groves. Now you have bugs on bugs. To really see what these insects look like and what they do, check this paper from the University of Florida:

    It’s not just juice that is a problem. The raw fruit itself is, as well.

  • New Yorker says:


    You could see them with your naked eye. They are juat covered with thick juice. The experts know how to carefully clean the juice off the scales. Then they are see-able with anybody’s eye. They also know what a scale looks like. Before I was shown the filtering process, the expert showed me many scale bugs on and off fruits soe I would understand what he was showing me in the juice.

    The bugs are there. And see-able.

  • Maria rubin says:


  • anon says:

    Once again, the issue that only bugs that can be seen with the naked eye are forbidden, must be clarified here. With the OJ, once the juice has been strained and the bugs removed from the orange pulp, they are clearly visible to the naked eye. Being mixed in and camoflouged in the orange pulp does not render them invisible to the naked eye and therefore kosher to consume. Similarly, light green thrips or aphids camoflouged on the leaf of the Romaine lettuce does not permit them and they must be removed. Once removed and placed on a neutral background such as a white piece of paper, they will be visible to the naked eye. Some people need to be shown a sample of what they look like, but once shown, even non “experts” would be able to easily identify them.
    As far as the halachic status of OJ, this is a comlicated topic, and many of the poskim consulted, that have actually investigated and engaged in checking and identifying the insects in OJ, have not issued a clear ruling yet. It may be that they will permit it at the end, for various reasons, but it clearly would need a comprehensive halachic responsa with the proper reasoning to negate the problem. To my knowledge, none of the poskim consulted, that actually investigated and saw the problem, said that the insects are not present. For Rabbi Levy of the OK to get up at this point and declare that the problem doesn’t exist is totally irresponsible and completely ignoring the problem. He could have quote rabbanim that feel it’s not a problem, for various reasons, but how can he just ignore the whole issue completely as if it doesn’t exist? Also, blaming the presence of the scale bugs on the added water to the straining process is an additional point of ignorance, as they are not present in the water, but rather nest and feed on the peels of citrus fruits, as is known to any expert. If anything, the burdain of proof should be on him at this point to prove that they are found in the water, before permitting the consumption of OJ to multitudes of Yidden.

  • anon says:

    As far as controlled scientific testing and industry standards, if the home grown lab experts show their findings to rabbanim and kashrus agencies, and they actually see the scale bugs with their own eyes, this problem must be addressed immediately. We cannot permit the consumption of shratzim while waiting to establish such “controlled scientific methods” when we see shratzim with our own eyes. We have a shulchan Aruch and poskim to decide for us how to proceed. Generally, industry standards in agriculture dictate how many insects are allowed, not how to find or look at them. Halacha will decide Hilchos Berya, Nirah L’eynayim, Ta’aroves, Efshar L’sanen, etc. At this point that the scale bugs have been seen by many and shown to rabbanim and kashrus authorities, the discussion has to be a Halachic one, not scientific, and must be decided quickly, being that many Yidden continue to consume OJ meanwhile, and are ingesting insects with every cup or bottle.

  • Seriously says:

    It’s trief acc to some poskim…but everyone still has to drink it…who cares about tropical a just drink a jewish brand… It’s all the same garbage… Grow up

  • Menachem Smith says:

    A store in Lakewood tried to produce bug free orange juice for it’s customers. here are the findings. The clearly rebuke all the junk science and tainting of facts of the OK.

    They purchased high quality juice oranges, which were waxed and in great condition. over 150 oranges were juiced in each of three tests. Each batch was divided into four batches. Some oranges were cleaned before juicing with cold water, some with hot water some with hot water soap and steel wool and a control batch that was not cleaned at all. In ALL cases, when the oranges in good conditions were used, no bugs were found at all in the orange juice. Then the rinds were scrutinized, and the tests showed that the rinds also had no evidence of any insects.

    In a second exactly similar test of poor juice oranges, which clearly had scales on the rinds before juicing, the same 3 batches were tested, with all the four types of washing methods. The results showed that when there are scales on the outside, they juice also has scales in the orange juice, even in the batches in which the oranges were washed with hot water, soap and steel wool.

    It is apparent that the “Lakewood water” did not have any bugs when the good batches were produced.

    The OK is quite aware that these findings can be duplicated, and in fact, some experts offered to go to the OK labs to show them the results and to do the same checking under their auspices. The OK, closed their eyes and rather buried their heads in the sand.

    It is a sad day in Kashrus, when scientific facts are manipulated for financial reasons.

    HOWEVER, please do not construe from any of the above that OJ is Ossur. Most Poskim agree that there are bugs, and for a multitude of reasons, one CANNOT Asser OJ. There are more than 15 clear reasons for these Heteirim. However, should a Baal Nefesh be Machmir, please ask your Rov, but please present the facts as they are, and not as someone would hope that they will be.