17 Aug KASHRUS QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
I am a frequent traveler and sometimes I find myself in a motel with a kitchenette. Am I able to go to the local fish store and purchase kosher fish?
You certainly cannot buy fish that is cooked or fried. You also may not buy fish that doesn’t have any skin on it, because once the skin is removed, aside from salmon, there is no way of knowing exactly which type of fish it is and it could possibly be a non-kosher fish. But if the fish is raw with skin on it, you need to make sure that the cutting board on which they are cutting the fish is clean and has no residue from other fish. Also, you need to make sure that they do not use the knife they always use because that knife is used to cut non-kosher fish as well. You would have to bring your own knife that’s only used for kosher purposes.
There are certain types of dried fruit that are susceptible to bug infestation and require checking. Do they still need to be checked if the package has a hechsher on them?
When we give a hashgacha on a product that has fruits and vegetables, part of giving the supervision is making sure there’s no infestation issues. Kosher law is very strict on infestation so there is no way we could label a product “kosher” if the issue of infestation has not been properly addressed.
Many years ago, there was a brand of romaine lettuce that was being sold with a certain supervision. We all know that romaine lettuce is typically very infested and really needs to be washed and checked very wel. When I became aware that this product was being sold in our community. I called a rabbi to ask him what his system was for cleaning the romaine lettuce. He answered as follows: “Rabbi, I’m not certifying the bugs, I’m only certifying the vegetables.’’ I was not very impressed to say the least, but that is the story. In my mind, one of the ways in identifying a reliable supervision is by making sure the vegetables that they are certifying are one hundred percent edible. If there is infestation, a reliable kashrus agency would not be certifying it.