Gefen Sardines Infested With Anisakis Worms


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YWN was sent the following Kashrus alert, with a request to publish it. We have reached out the Kashrus organization making this claim, and they confirmed that they have in fact disseminated this alert. They told YWN that they have tested over 100 cans of sardines before coming to their conclusion, that it is impossible to clean the worms out of the sardines. As of this posting, the OU (who is one of the Kashrus organizations behind the product) has not issued any statement. We have been told that they are in the process of doing their own investigation.

The alert reads as follows:

The Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush has inspected large quantities of cans of Gefen sardines with skin and bones.

The following position is the result of our findings and reflects our opinion on this matter:

Gefen sardines with skin and bones from Portugal have been found to be heavily infested with Anisakis worms in the abdominal cavity. They are forbidden according to all opinions and are not affected by the recent discussion about Anisakis worms in the flesh of fish.

The sardines must be gutted and the interior walls scraped to ensure that the worms have been removed. This procedure requires much expertise to ascertain that all the worms have been removed. In our opinion the consumer should not attempt doing so on his own.

Currently, this alert does not affect the status of skinless and boneless sardines.

Rabbi Tzvi S. Goldberg
Kashrus Administrator
Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush

Additionally, YWN was sent a letter from Rav Nochum Ephrayim Teitelbaum Shlita, Av Bais Din Volover, which was signed on December 31, 2010.

YWN attempted to reach the Volover Rov, but have not been able to reach him.

The English text of that letter reads:

“This is to advise that after careful investigation it was determined that insects are found in the intestines of “Gefen” sardines from Portugal. (NOT IN THE FLESH). They must first be opened and the guts completely cleaned out.”

To read the full text, click HERE.

It should be noted that YWN is not in any way advising anyone what they should do. One must always consult with their Rov.

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(YWN Desk – NYC)


  1. Interestingly enough, Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg Shlita saw first hand over a month ago that bochurim in his Yeshiva Zichron Leyma in Linden, NJ showed him cans of sardines under the OU hechsher that worms were in the cans and at that time OU put out a statement on two of their products. It seems now that probably all companies that are canning sardines should be investigated and made sure that there are no such occurrences happening. Thank you YWN for getting this information broadcasted.

  2. 1. The Vaad of Flatbush. What is the question??

    2. I don’t know whom you are talking about but I will suggest that we allow the POSKIM to PASKEN and not Roshay Yeshiva no matter how well learned they are in Baba Kama.

  3. Mark – Many Roshai Yeshiva are qualified to poskin in matters of halacha. You don’t become a Rosh HaYeshiva by being ignorant of halacha.

  4. The Vaad of Flatbush is headed by Rabbi Kenneth Auman, of the Young Israel of Ave. I.

    thank you YWN for these alerts! my husband is a retired mashgiach who worked for many kashrus organizations, including the OU, & these alerts are so helpful to us!
    plus, we have sardines in the house! gotta check the brands.

  5. Rabbi Auman is the Rav of Young Israel of Flatbush, located on Ave I (there is no shul YI of Ave I) and he is affiliated with Kehilla Kashrus. As is noted in article, the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush is headed by Rabbi Tzvi Goldberg.

  6. YWN Desk. The article states that an attempt was made to reach the OU “who is one of the Kashrus organizations behind the product”. How many organizations are behind the product? Who are they? Was an attempt made to reach them for their response?

  7. a friend in LOndon told me about this problem over 2 months ago since it was in the Jewish papers their. Second I have had problems with the ou when notifying them about problems and getting them 5 to 7 weeks to respond and then by then the problem products was all bought up. OU is a good organization but needs to respond much much faster

  8. I just saw an alert today from the OU. They wrote that a kind of shrimp that is fed to sardines usually would be completely digested. Due to the climate changes and changes in fishing methods, it can still be found in its stomach.

  9. The OU is not hiding about this. They issued their own alert 30 days ago about Geffen sardines from Portugal. Why do people cast aspersions?

    This is the entire text of link (I hope OU has no issues with me copying and pasting this from their site).

    Consumer Alerts
    Kosher Alerts RSS Feed
    January 11, 2011
    There is an issue that has been observed (so far exclusively) in Gefen sardines from Portugal canned in 5769 and 5770. Several other brands from other countries have been checked and found to be clean. We have yet to observe the following concern in any other OU product.

    OU Mashgichim checking the gut cavities of sardines have recently discovered small white worms around the internal organs of some sardines (not IN the stomachs, which is a separate issue regarding krill in the stomach of some sardines from Canada). These worms can be distinguished from various sardine blood vessels and sinews in that the worms maintain their shape fairly rigidly, even when agitated in water. They can be curled up or spread out, found most commonly on the underside of the ovaries. The Shulchan Aruch differentiates between parasites found in the flesh of fish (which are permitted) and those found in the stomach, head, behind the ears, etc (which are forbidden).

    The easiest way to avoid all concerns about this issue is to remove all of the internal organs from the sardine. Some suggest looking at the walls of the gut cavity to confirm they are free from this concern as well.

    In addition, skinless and boneless products are free from this issue.

    The Orthodox Union continues to research the issue, and will advise further should we discover this issue in any other products.
    Page 1 of 1

  10. Does anyone know about skinless and boneless Season brand imported from Morocco? According to OU alert it would appear to be no problem- bought dozens of cans from costco for pesach