After discovering that canned sardines contain barely visible worms called nematodes, speculation that the food would be labeled unkosher abounded. According to The New York Times
, those rumors can now be put to rest: Genetic testing by a parasitologist at the American Museum of Natural History confirmed that the presence of worms in canned sardines does not make them unkosher.
The testing was commissioned by rabbis from the Orthodox Union, who were concerned about the nematodes that they found in cans of sardines. This was not because of the nematodes’ general unsavoriness, but because their presence in the cans might mean that the sardines’ muscle was allowed to mix into their intestines, which would render the whole food preparation unkosher.
The rabbis brought samples of sardines to the museum, where Dr. Mark Siddall, curator of the museum’s invertebrate department, analyzed the worms’ DNA to see if they had ever dwelled in the flesh of the sardines.
All of this to say that yes, canned sardines are kosher. Now we can smear them on toast and eat them without any more worries, while trying to forget about the small white worms nestled among them.
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