I hope everyone had a meaningful Rosh Hashana and I want to wish you all a Gemar Hatima Tova this Yom Kippur.

It has come to my attention that not everyone is clear on the proper, halachic way to purchase fish. I am writing this brief blog post to clarify the halacha.

As you know, a kosher fish must have fins and kaskeset, ie kosher scales. The test for kosher scales is if they can be removed without damaging the flesh of the fish.

Some may think that purchasing a fish fillet marked “cod” or “whitefish”, for example, from a grocery store is permissible, since the store has labelled the fish with a name that you know to be a kosher species. This is incorrect! The non-Jewish person in the fish department cannot be relied upon halachically to identify the species. The exception is salmon, which is identifiable as salmon even without a skin tab.

The other issue involved in purchasing fish involves the use of non-kosher knives and cutting boards. In such a case, residue from non-kosher species cut with the same knife and on the same cutting boards is problematic.

At our local stores under Va’ad hashgacha, the words of the hechsher are clear:
• Customer must verify at time of cutting that the fish is of a kosher species by seeing fish raw with skin on. Pre-cut fillets with a skin tab and salmon may be purchased without further supervision. A Vaad mashgiach is available upon request for supervision of cutting.
• Customer should request that fish cut to order be processed with kosher knives on the kosher boards.
• Fish should be weighed on clean paper (not touching the scale).
• Ground Fish: Ground fish is only available in Va’ad sealed packaging (each package must have two seals with the Va’ad symbol, or through special arrangement with the Va’ad.)

If you have any questions about fish issues, feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to read a helpful F & Q’s on this issue, see http://www.kashrut.com/articles/fishfaq/