October 31, 2011

Mislabeled Fish Not an Issue for Kosher

Brooklyn, NY…The news that a significant percentage of fish is mislabeled has a Flatbush rabbi concerned that all kosher sushi and fish products are indeed kosher. But Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Kashrus Division of the Orthodox Union (OU), said that kashrus organizations require all fish bought on the open market to include the skin which clearly shows the scales and the Talmud indicates that it is also proof of the required fins. Consumer Reports  purchased 190 pieces of seafood at restaurants and stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and found that more than 20 percent was mislabeled as different species of fish or misidentified by employees, according to an article in its upcoming December issue. Consumer Reports said all of the 10 of the "lemon soles" and 12 of the 22 "red snappers" proved to be other species. A five-month Boston Globe investigation reached a similar conclusion, showing that 48 percent of fish samples did not match their labels. Earlier this year, ABC News correspondent Elisabeth Leamy reported on the prevalence of "fish fraud."  According to Food and Drug Administration port inspections, a third of seafood sold in the U.S. is mislabeled as one type when it's actually something else, even something cheaper," Leamy reported.

Several rabbis reached by Kosher Today said that they generally required vendors to buy fish from sources with a kosher certification but if bought on the open market can only be used if the skin is still attached. As for diners in kosher establishments, the rabbis said that they were “in the same boat with everyone else, but they do not face a kashrus issue.”