Is Pig-fed kosher or halal?

fish fed on pork

The European Commission (EC) approved a meat-based feedstock for farm-raised fish.  Next year, your mullet and trout might contain chicken and pork.

Horsemeat in burgers, meatballs and frozen lasagna is startling, but while these products include a “secret ingredient”, they remain as advertised: meat-based foods.  But what happens when the fish on your dish also contains meat?

Wild salmon won’t be tucking in to a pork roast, but their farmed cousins will soon be dining on ground up pig parts.  A variety of animal byproducts are processed into an animal protein powder, also called meat meal, which is now approved as an additive to fish food.  Byproducts include cartilage (ears, tails), hooves and organs, and it’s not particularly clear that those parts come from perfectly healthy piggies.

The Middle East is a large importer of European seafood.

Seafood labeling is widely a slipshod business: in a study last year, non-profit Oceana performed DNA testing on seafood sold at 74 retail outlets in Los Angeles. Results showed that 55% of 119 fish samples were misidentified. If California can’t get species properly sorted, what’s the likelihood that the Middle East can take it a step further and also identify each fish’s diet?


How’s this swim with Jews and Muslims and pescatarians?

How can you know if your fish purchases are kosher, or halal, or just pure fish? Will the absence of dietary surety mean an exodus of shoppers from the seafood aisle? It could be that the EC is cutting off it’s own metaphorical body part in a misguided attempt to help its aquaculture industry.

In 1997, a similar fish feed was banned for its connection to Mad Cow Disease.  Debate raged over the global food network.  Was it ethical to feed cow products to cows?  Was it safe?  But time passed and rules softened, and in 2008 fish meal was reintroduced to pig and poultry feeds. This latest step flips the food chain, now feeding pork and poultry meat meal to fish.

The news is muffled.  Food Navigator gave it a few paragraphs, as did EurActiv.  But what’s the reaction in Israel and Jordan? Why no squeals from the Gulf states or snorts from Egypt?

Global web mover and shaker Avaaz is raising a stink (appropriate for a subject that combines fish and pigs).  They’ve got a petition in play to pressure governments to stop porkfish from entering our markets. Avaaz has incited over 1 million people to petition against genetically modified food in Europe, and another million to take action against mutant salmon “frankenfish”. Want to join the movement?  Click this link and sign, share with everyone interested in controlling what they eat.

More comfortable sitting back, allowing governments to meddle with your menu?  Then perhaps you should memorize a new take on an old rhyme:

This little cod went to market; this little salmon stayed home, this little tuna ate roast beef, and this little tilapia had none.  And this little porkfish ran all the way home!

 Image of porkfish from Avaaz, and of  salt-water pig from Shutterstock

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