Back to top
Q: Please let me know whether scale insects on citrus fruit, which some in Israel say is an issue, is a concern here also in the U.S. It is relevant for someone who wants to publish a recipe that calls for lemon rind, and for the consumers who will use it.
A: Citrus scale is the name for a class of insects which attack the fruit (and leaves) of oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits. Each tiny scale attaches itself to a fruit, lowers a rostrum (a hair-like feeding tube) into the fruit and sucks juice out of the fruit. After the scale is attached to the fruit, it excretes a wax-like cover/shield over its exposed side, and remains immobile and attached to that same spot for its entire life. The cover is typically black and round, and is the basis for the name citrus “scale”. An experienced person can peel the cover (and probably the insect as well) off the fruit; this is different than other discolorations of the fruit which cannot be removed. [Detailed reports on citrus scale by the University of Florida and the University of California can be found at http://bit.ly/iOQy5s(HS-817) and http://bit.ly/l7Smlb(#21529).]
There are two halachic issues relating to citrus scale:
The good news is that growers in the United States use all types of pesticides and natural predators to keep citrus scale off of oranges and other fruit intended for eating, and therefore this discussion is not so relevant for most of us. It seems that in Eretz Yisroel citrus scale is more common, and the people there are encouraged to either remove the scale or make sure to peel the fruit carefully so as to make sure none of the insects come off the peel and fall into the food. Even in the United States citrus scale is sometimes found on fruit intended for juicing where the appearance of the fruit is not as significance.