June 7, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 7, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Adding Worcestershire Sauce to Meat

Anchovies and Meat

Many people enjoy adding Worcestershire sauce to meat since it adds a unique spicy taste. Anchovies (a kosher fish), an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, contributes to that special spicy taste. Accordingly, it seems forbidden to add this condiment to a steak or burger since the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 116:2) codifies the Gemara (Pesachim 76b), which states that it is dangerous to consume a combination of meat and fish.

Nonetheless, the OU and Star-K permit adding Worcestershire sauce to meat if the fish ingredient is nullified in 60 parts (batel b’shishim) in the sauce. However, other kashrut agencies require this sauce to be labeled as fish even if the fish portion is batel b’shishim.

 

Does the Meat and Fish Prohibition Still Apply?

The Magen Avraham (173:1, cited by the Mishna Brura 173:3) raises the possibility that this prohibition no longer applies because, in our experience, meat and fish together do not pose a danger. The Darkei Teshuva (116:16) quotes Teshuvot Shevut Yaakov (3:70) that although we do not accept the Magen Avraham’s view, it can serve as a s’nif l’hakel, a component in a lenient ruling.

 

Bittul B’Shishim

The Acharonim debate whether bittul b’shishim applies to a mixture of meat and fish. The Taz (Y.D. 116:2) argues that it does not apply to such a mixture since the Gemara (Pesachim 116b) states that consuming a combination of fish and meat is dangerous. The Taz marshals the Gemara (Chullin 10a), which teaches, “chamira sakanta me’isura, danger is treated more strictly than Torah forbidden food,” as proof. Thus, just as we would not permit poison even if it is batel b’shishim, we forbid even the tiniest amount of fish in meat or vice versa.

However, the Shach in his Nekudat HaKesef disagrees, arguing that the danger dissipates when the fish is less than 60 parts the fish. The Pitchei Teshuva (Y.D. 116:3) cites a slew of poskim who follow the Shach. The Chochmat Adam (68:1) and Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 116:10) codify the lenient view.

 

Ein Mevatlin Issur Lechatchila

It is forbidden to nullify a forbidden item in 60 parts deliberately. For example, no kosher family adds a small amount of milk to a meat cholent, even though there is more than 60 times more meat than milk. If one does so, it is forbidden to eat the mixture (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 99:6).

However, the aforementioned Pitchei Teshuva permits nullifying a fish and meat mixture in more than 60 parts. In this case, the nullification removes the danger, and the meat and fish prohibition no longer applies. However, the Darkei Teshuva (116:20) cites poskim who disagree. Teshuvot Mahrasham (3:288) rules that since some are strict about bittul b’shishim for fish and meat, we should not deliberately nullify one with the other.

 

Adding Worcestershire Sauce to Meat

Thus, some kashrut agencies forbid adding Worcestershire sauce to meat even if the anchovies are batel b’shishim. However, the OU and the Star-K permit this addition and would not label such a product as “OUF” or “Star-KF.” The fish is already nullified in the sauce when one purchases the product. Thus, one is not nullifying fish and meat when adding Worcestershire sauce to meat. The OU website notes that Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (cited in Peninei Ish) permits such a mixture since the danger has already been neutralized.

 

Milta D’avidi L’Ta’ama

The Rama rules (Yoreh Deah 98:8) that something that adds flavor (milta d’avidi l’ta’ama) is not nullified even in 60 parts. Thus, how can the fish part of Worcestershire sauce be nullified if it contributes to taste?

However, the Rama’s rule only applies to inherently prohibited food (such as pig, as opposed to fish, which is only forbidden if mixed with meat). Moreover, a milta d’avidi l’ta’ama only applies if the item serves as the dominant taste (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Y.D. 63 and Teshuvot Minchat Asher 1:44). While anchovies contribute to Worcestershire sauce’s flavor, it is not dominant as many other ingredients, such as vinegar, contribute to its special tangy taste.

The same reasoning explains why the Darkei Teshuva (116:21) that forbids fish to be nullified in 60 parts if its taste is still discernible, does not apply to Worcestershire sauce. While fish helps generate the sauce’s taste, it has many partners in creating the resulting product.

 

Conclusion

Even if one has lingering doubts about the lenient view, we may add the Magen Avraham’s idea that the danger of meat and fish no longer applies as a s’nif l’hakel. Therefore, the lenient view has a strong foundation we may unhesitatingly follow.


Rabbi Jachter serves as the rav of Congregation Shaarei Orah, rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County, and a get administrator with the Beth Din of Elizabeth. Rabbi Jachter’s 17 books may be purchased at Amazon and Judaica House.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles