Rabbi Elefant: Mislabeled Fish Not an Issue for Kosher


rabbi-moshe-elefantBrooklyn, 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 Gemara 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.”

{Kosher Today/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. all kosher fish require that the skin remain on it prior to filleting the problem that we have isn’t non kosher fish but that we are being sold less expensive fish for a higher quality fish

  2. To #7, what is your point?

    Just because someone is known to be professional, responsible, ehrliche, well-informed, and a talmid chochom, that means that he shouldn’t be subjected to ignorant laytzanus by the commentators here?

  3. I bought a 100% wool garment; took it for shatnez and found out it contained no wool.
    Apparently quite common.
    Buy a linen skirt and you may find out that it contains no linen.
    Buy a “natural” diamond and it may really be one of the new difficult to detect machine made stones.
    Fraud in the market place is rampant and not just confined to fish.
    Buyer beware!

  4. Cannot understand how this is not an issue. All these fish ‘problems’ have come up since they started importing fish. Most come from China; but if there is a hechsher should we not take it for granted that it is truly – first of all, strictly Kosher and secondly, that it is the fish stated on the label, if frozen or canned? These new problems will cause people, who do care, to stop eating, chas v’sholom, or cutting out any fish or meat. This will push us to become vegetarians. That should make the cookoo PETA people happy.

  5. To number 3 I am NOT wrong, it is common knowledge that the OU doesn’t require a mashgiach or simani kashrus on fish like I said tuna is one of them salmon is another and up till 2 years ago they would even certify white flat fish without a mashgiach or skin…… I verified all f this information they make no secret of it, cal them and ask yourself before you baselessly acuse me of being wrong. Thank you

  6. Maybe there is something to worry about? Some types of fish, according to the Israeli rabbinate, have to be checked for the anisakis worm. If a fish is mislabeled, one might not know that it’s a kind that has to be checked.

    Is this a concern?

  7. Those mentioning Tuna are oversimplifying the situation. They might wish to read R’ Schachter’s article in RJJ on the kashers of Tuna fish and then revert.