Friday, March 28, 2008

Does Illness Affect Kosher Status of Fish?

Sea lice from young wild salmon. Photo by Alexandra Morton

Question: Does illness affect kosher status of fish?

Answer: In short - absolutely not!

Illness does not affect kosher status of any fish, which is determined exclusively by the presence (or absense) of "kosher scales", namely scales which can be removed from the fish without ripping the skin.

The question came up because of a recent NY Times story here about Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) . While in animals and birds there IS a concern about disease, there is no such limitation found in salmon.

Fear not!

Now, for the long(er) version:

"The practice of aquaculture is not without negative impacts. The harmful consequences and risks associated with aquaculture can be broken down into the three subcategories below. They are: risks to the farmed fish themselves; risks to the surrounding environment and organisms; and risks to the human population. "

This quote is from: Duke University's Biology dept, whose cite can be found here. They know more about the effect on people than me, so read up!

To the best of my (little) knowledge, the diseased fish are not usually sold, and any fish whose disease would impact humans are not (spuuopsed to be) sold.

I do not see a practical issue for my subscribers.

Same thing for salmon lice (which some kosher agencies are crazy about). As I remember from a conversation I had with Avi Attias (co-owner of Banner Smoked Fish in Brooklyn, NY) any lice on the fish fall off after they are frozen, and are so huge and ugly that they would never wind up in the food supply.

In long: fear not!

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