Are Pork-fed “Porkfish” Kosher and Halal?


The European Commission (EC) approved a pork-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 pork-sourced cartilage (from ears, tails), hooves and organs, and it’s not particularly clear that those parts come from perfectly healthy piggies either.

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 little tilapia had none. And this little porkfish ran all the way home!

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  15. Laurie says:

    Martin – someone did start a petition to fight this ruling, see the link embedded in the story – fifth paragraph. Not, but Avaaz – similar and I do believe effective at rousing public support. Check it out.

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  17. Laurie says:

    Avaaz surely photo-shopped the pig fish for comic effect, but there’s not much funny about pink-dyed fish!

    I wonder how exactly they uniformly dye the flesh – ughhhhhh

  18. Maurice says:

    Actually some cheap brands of salmon, especially those raised in fish farms (and not feeding on crustaceans) have the pink color added in (food coloring). I bought some of this type not long ago; and as the old saying goes: you get what you pay for.

    By the way, didn’t someone do a “photo shop” on the pork fish photo? I looked this fish up and it looks a bit different than the one shown here.

  19. Laurie Balbo says:


    A friend also noted that the reason wild salmon are pink-fleshed is because of all the crustaceans they eat (similar to why flamingos are pink). As someone who follows neither a kosher nor halal diet I wonder is this an issue or not in the respective religious communities?

    (Or is it just a pig in a poke?)

  20. Maurice says:

    There’s really no more connection here than growing mushrooms in pig manure – a common practice in China. I remember when a certain brand of canned mushrooms was taken off the market in Israel due to this issue.

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