Kashrus Policies on Worms in Fish

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    OU policy on worms in fish

    Rabbi Eli Gersten arranged a conference call for Rav Belsky and myself to discuss the current situation regarding the worms in wild salmon and other fish on Tuesday Jan 26th (a conversation with Rav Belsky on the 28th lead to some further clarifications and amendments from the previous memo).

    1. Shulchan Aruch does not limit the permissibility of tolayim (parasites) found in the flesh of fish to any species of tolaas. The halacha states that a tolaas found in the flesh of a fish is mutar because of the rule of minei gavli [Chulin 67B], (that the parasite found in the flesh of the fish is permissible since it grew bigger in the fish)

    3. Some are concerned that the tolayim found in the flesh are actually the forbidden tolayim found in the viscera (Shulcah Aruch forbids the tolayim found in the viscera). Rav Belsky felt this claim is not based on any significant research. Rav Belsky felt that his own inquiries from qualified experts indicate that the opposite is true, and that the tolayim in question are found in the flesh while it was alive. Furthermore, Rav Belsky feels even these tolayim would be permitted (see point #2 above).

    1. Rav Belsky confirmed that the size of the tolaas when it is swallowed by the fish is not relevant (even if it is visible while swallowed by the fish and visible when it migrates form the viscera). He also felt that reports that the tolaas is typically 5 mm is an exaggeration of the larger end of the spectrum recorded. He believes that nearly all of these tolayim when they are swallowed are between 1-2 mm long and quite thin (Rav Belsky felt they would be considered ayno nireh laynayim [halachically invisible


    the RCC of california says the opposite:

    Rabbinical Council of California

    In the recent weeks the Kashrut world has been preoccupied with the issue of worms in fish. The Anisakis

    worm penetrates the stomach and from there it travels and lives inside the flesh! However, this insect is found

    in some bodies of water and not others, hence the permissibility of some and prohibition of other members of

    the same species.

    After extensive research by Rabbis and experts globally, the following advisory has been issued:

    All types of fish with the Anisakis worm in their flesh may not be used. These include:

    _ Wild Salmon (e.g. Sockeye), Canned Salmon (wild). We are awaiting word from the

    certifiers of canned salmon as to their future status.

    _ Flounder: Yellow tail/ Wild Dabs/ Black Backs, Sole. At this time there are no known

    fresh or frozen flounder fillets that are acceptable, even if certified (e.g Dagim,

    Kinneret etc).

    _ Wild Halibut, Sea bass a.k.a. Smoked Sable, Red perch, Scrod, Pollack, Cod,

    Turbot and Butterfish are all problematic.

    _All Farm Raised Salmon is acceptable.

    _ Salmon: Wild: (Chinook) from British Colombia, New Zealand: May be used (they

    are actually farm raised).

    _ Tilapia, Carp, Pike, Herring fillet, Red Snapper, Tuna May be Used.

    _ Fish products made from minced fish e.g. fish sticks are ok.

    _ Lox are ok.

    _ Halibut: Farm Raised is acceptable.

    _ Cod :Farm Raised and Chatum are acceptable

    _ Pollock : Chatum is acceptable

    _ All Gefilte Fish is acceptable.

    To recap:

    _Butter Fish: May NOT be used

    _Cod / Sable if Farm Raised or from Chatum: _May be used

    _Cod /Sable (Smoked): May NOT be used

    _Flounder: Fluke, Georges Banks, Channel, Tilapia: _May be used

    _Flounder: Yellow fin sole, Dabs,(wild), Black Back: May NOT be used

    _Hake: May NOT be used

    _Halibut: Alaskan, Pacific, Atlantic: May NOT be used

    _Halibut: Farm Raised: _May be used

    _Pollock (Fresh & Frozen) from Alaska or China: May NOT be used

    _ Pollock from Chatum: _ May be used

    _Red Perch from Canada or Iceland: May NOT be used

    _Salmon Wild: Alaskan (Sockeye): May NOT be used

    _Salmon Wild: (Chinook) from British Colombia, New Zealand: _May be used

    _Scrod: May NOT be used

    _Sea Bass a.k.a. Smoked Sable from Chili or Peru: May NOT be used

    _Sole (Yellow fin, rock sole): May NOT be used

    _Turbot: Canadian Frozen: May NOT be used


    Besides just the kashrus problems some worms are extremely dangerous such as tapeworms.



    This is a not a problem in cooked fish.


    “Roundworms called nematodes are the most common parasite found in marine fishes. All are in the family Anisakidae and are anisakid nematodes.

    Freshwater fish like trout and fish that spend part of their life in freshwater such as salmon may carry Diphyllobothrium tapeworm larvae. These small, whitish, and somewhat flabby worms are common in salmon from some areas of Alaska.

    Nematodes rarely cause health problems because they are uncommon in fish fillets and normal cooking easily destroys them. Even swallowing a live nematode is generally harmless. The nematode passes through the intestine without causing problems.

    Swallowing live tapeworm larvae can cause a tapeworm infestation. The tapeworms may live in the human intestinal tract for several years. Doctors successfully treat tapeworm infections with medicines.

    Dry-salting fish, or curing them in a saturated salt brine, for 5-7 days before pickling will also kill nematodes and tapeworms.”

    Be Happy

    My husband is “The worm man” in a heimishe kashrus agency in Europe. Our Rabbonim permit eating fish with anisakis etc. This is according to the Shulchan Orach Yorah Deah 84. There is nothing new about these worms, they have been since the world was created. In Europe this is no news as the anisakis are well known by us and we’ve been eating them for thousands of years. There is one important thing to know; these worms are kosher as long as part of them is still in the flesh of the fish. When he exits completely his status changes and he is ossur. Therefore one must preheat whatever the fish is to be cooked in before putting in the fish fillet or minced. That is to prevent the worm from making a complete exit. If the fish was frozen there is no need to preheat since he is dead and will not come out.

    From time to time there is someone who comes up with the news that there are some Rabonim that forbid the fish with anisakis and my husband checks with Rav P.E. Falk, and with Rav M. Vaie who verifies that the Gedolei Haposkim agree that there is no problem. There was a notice lately that claimed that many poskim forbid anisakis, Rav Vaie checked with some of the poskim who claimed the information is false. One of the Israeli Rabonim that forbids the anisakis gives a hechsher on 2 fish shops in Bnei Brak. They have some goites that pull out the worms from the fillets. It is interesting to note that Bnei Brak is full of Rabonim and Roshei Yeshiva and nobody requires the fish shops to remove the worms!!

    My husband recomends that anybody interested should learn one Y”D 84 “Hilchos Toloim”. You will be surprised how many of them are kosher!!


    If worms in fish posed a serious health hazard, one would have expected that Japan, a country in which raw fish are consumed in huge quantities, would have seen severe health effects. But Japan has the healthiest people and the longest life expectancy in the world.

    I will yield to the rabbis regarding kashrut, except to say that just this past Thursday I purchased scrod and salmon from my local kosher certified (Vaad of Riverdale) fish store and served them this past Shabat, and I’m cooking sole for a Purim seudah tomorrow. At such time as my local rabbis ban these fish I will abide by their ruling. (I buy all my fish from the same local kosher fish store.)


    AS Hashem put these worms in the fish, but told us that fish with fins and scales are kosher, I am not sure why there is a problem. Is there a similar problem with chicken and meat?


    I and many others hold that rav belsky is 100% right and has a very valid proof. And those who are machmir I would just like to let u k ow what the rma says: there is a minhag to have a hot food ( chulent) and since the halachos of heating up food are very hard people were machmir not to have it but the rma says that those who don’t eat hot food are apikursim…


    rma says that those who don’t eat hot food are apikursim…

    Yes, but that’s because they are showing with their actions* that they don’t hold of TSBP. I don’t think the same applies here with fish.

    The Wolf

    * Of course, that only applies if you do so purposely because you believe it’s the halacha. I’ve had cold-only meals on Shabbos (for taste/convenience reasons, especially in the summertime) and that doesn’t make me an apikorus.


    I thinkthe same does apply here with fish. And btw the rma said it only if the person is doing it to be machmir


    I think you’re wrong… as you were on the eruv issue – but okay. So we agree to disagree.

    The Wolf


    Ok, you and I may have a ??????


    As I said… we’ll just agree to disagree. 🙂

    The Wolf




    the mikor to the remah is in the baal hamaor in perek keerah and it seems the reason is b/c of the lack of belief in tora shebal peh




    Hashem Is Everywhere:

    Its Mefuresh a Shaarei Teshuva (IIRC) regarding Bitul Bisheshim, that if one is machmir not to eat it they are “Karov L”Apikores”, since they don’t believe in the Chachamim.

    Be Happy

    “If worms in fish posed a serious health hazard, one would have expected that Japan, a country in which raw fish are consumed in huge quantities, would have seen severe health effects.”

    Actually there is a health problem with raw fish. Uncooked pupae of the worms can hatch in humans and the worm can enter internal organs and wreack havoc. if the person is lucky it will enter flesh and the area can be painful but the worm can be removed.In England the sushi bars have to deep freeze the fish before serving so that the eggs and pupae are killed.


    Yes, eating raw fish can cause tapeworm infestation in a person.

    It’s fairly easily treatable with medication as far as I know.

    Feif Un

    The reason of the Rema with regard to hot food on Shabbos has a specific reason – the Tzedukim, who didn’t hold of TSBP, only ate cold food on Shabbos, because of the posuk Lo tevaaru aish bechol moshvoseichem. To show that we disagree with them, we have a minhag to eat hot food on Shabbos. That’s why someone who is machmir on it is close to apikursis – because he is doing like the Tzedukim. There os no such comparison with the fish issue, so I have to disagree with Hashem is Everywhere on that point.


    Fish and Worms – The Bottom Line

    By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

    on Monday, April 19, 2010

    Under a light at the Machon, we proceeded to pull out numerous Anasaki worms from different types of fish.

    After seeing these worms first hand and where they are located, both in the fresh fish and on tapes and pictures from the boats – it is vividly clear that the worms start in the stomach of the fish.

    This author personally pulled out one of those worms. Indeed, while writing this article a test tube filled with spiraled up Anisakis worms pulled out during my visit there lies in my front pocket.

    This being the case, that the origins of this parasite and the manner in which it enters the fish is now known – the position of those that permit the consumption of fish that are infested with these worms seems to be quite tenuous.

    There is another issue too. Even if the worms would be considered to be kosher, the halacha states that if someone is personally disgusted by the consumption of these worms then it is forbidden to eat them as well.

    However, if one actually saw the worm proceed from the gizzards into the flesh then, clearly, the Shulchan Aruch would not have permitted such a case.

    Are the fish impossible to eat for those who wish to avoid eating worms? Can they be cleaned? Yes. The seasoned inspector can look at a completely skinned fish in 65 seconds if using a light box. Red fish, however, would require an ultra-violet light and need about 90 seconds to inspect properly.

    1] As of this writing, the major Kashrus agencies in America are not yet committed to ensure that our fish are free from the Anisakis worm.


    3] Some fish producing countries and fish simply do not have the Anasakis worm. This is either because the waters do not have it or because the fish is frozen so quickly after the gizzards have been removed that the worm has no chance of migrating.

    Herring – Must scrape and clean the fillet sides and thoroughly cleanse.

    Chinese, American, Canadian, and Japanese Salmon fillets may not be used without light box. Farmed salmon in the USA is okay.

    There are other types of less common fish as well. Please inquire about them. This author may be reached by email at [email protected]

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