10/25/2011

The End of "Eat Fish Out" Orthodoxy?


Despite my surname and, presumably, the occupation of one of my patrilineal ancestors, I do not eat fish. The taste of fish makes me gag.
It was therefore never difficult for me to paskin that one may not eat out at non-certified fish restaurants and sushi bars. I had no problem accepting the conventional wisdom of the Orthodox establishment that there were often cases of mixing and mislabeling. Though I had never gone into a fish restaurant to check out the situation first hand (I can only recall being asked about this issue once), I trusted the wisdom I grew up on, which did not acknowledge a category of Orthodoxy that eats fish out.In any event, it appears that the conventional wisdom was, in fact, wise. A new Boston Globe expose shows that the phenomenon of mislabeling fish, especially by restaurants, is phenomenally high. Some of the substitute species - swai and some types of escolar, for example - are not kosher. I would be curious to know whether there are statistics about mislabeling fish in kosher restaurants and/or guidelines that kosher certifications agencies have in place to prevent mislabeling. I also wonder whether such an agency would certify an establishment that it knows to be substituting one kosher species with a kosher but inferior species. Is this a possible niche for the Tav Ha-Yosher?

[On a lighter note, perhaps this uncertainty about the identity of fish species explains the origin of the name of one such species. ?מה היא? מה היא ]

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