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On the Job: Mashgiach

Rhona Lewis

The piece of halibut, sole or cod your mother’s made for supper has probably traveled to China and back. All over the world, fish are caught, sent to China for packaging, and shipped to supermarkets worldwide. Who was watching your fish while it was in China? Meet Rabbi Yishai Sakat, a mashgiach for the past 25 years, whose job takes him to a fish processing factory in Beijing, the capital of China.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

man in white coatWhat does a mashgiach in a fish factory do?

You all know that kosher fish must have fins and scales, right? But when you buy frozen fish fillets, often there aren’t any fins and scales left on the fillet, so you don’t have any proof that the fish is kosher. One of my jobs is to check the fish for fins and scales before it is filleted. I also kasher the knives that the factory workers use in case they took them home and used them to fillet their own nonkosher fish. If we’re doing a Pesach run, I make sure the factory is kosher for Pesach.

In my processing plant, many different types of fish are prepared. For example, the Japanese love deep-fried fish spikes. Since these are coated in flour, I have to watch out. Once before Pesach, I had to reject an entire container of fish fillets because I discovered some flour in the factory. Within a couple of hours, the manager brought in a truckload of 200 workers to kasher the factory and we began the run again.


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