Since I have seen many religious people drink fresh spring water, I assume that there is no concern regarding the kashrut of microorganisms in the water such as hydra and paramecia, among other similar creatures.

Similarly, certain products such as probiotics, commonly present in yogurt, contain bacteria. Some oral vaccines (It's been a while since I got the Sabin vaccine - I assume they still use it) contain viri. I assume that here, too, there is no concern regarding kashrut.

Why was there no concern considering that these are living "species"? Are they in its own non-animal category? Does the Talmud or other source discuss these? If so, where?

  • 2
    The overarching principle is that halakhah doesn't rely on instrumentation, but rather on shalta be-`eyna ("the apprehension of the [naked] eye"). In other words, if you can't see it, it's not relevant. Kol tuv.
    – user3342
    Jul 13, 2015 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


This issue is the one behind the famous New York City non-Kosher water scandal. Basically, the issue is that there are tiny crustaceans in NYC tap water.

The Star-K gives a nice overview of the issue. In short, everybody agrees that if a micro-organism is too small to be seen without magnification, it does not cause any kashrut issue. On the other-hand, if you can see a small crustacean floating in your water, it is obviously not kosher.

The issue under debate in the New York case is over crustaceans that are large enough to be seen, but so small that they just appear to be white specks in the water. You wouldn't be able to tell what they are without magnification. In that case, there is a machloket over whether this causes a kashrut issue. As a result, at least the Star-K and the OU require tap water in New York City to be filtered.

  • Having seen copepods floating in NYC tap water, I can vouch that they only appear to be just white specks if you don't look at them too closely. If you focus on them, you can easily make out their antennae and tail. (1-2mm is very visible.)
    – Loewian
    Nov 21, 2019 at 14:46
  • "if you can see a small crustacean floating in your water, it is obviously not kosher" This is not obvious. Bugs that were born in water and stay there are kosher until they leave the water (to oversimplify a bunch).
    – Double AA
    Jan 4, 2022 at 18:20

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