The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 118:1 says: "Wine, meat and chatichas dag (a piece of fish)...that were deposited or sent with a non-Jew, need two chosamos (seals)"
Last week we learned that the Gemara mentions certain items that require two seals when transported with a non-Jew, to prove that the food was not tampered with. The items were "chatichas dag," "basar" (meat), "yayin" (wine), and "techeiles" (the blueish dye used on tzitzis).
There is also a second category of items not mentioned in this particular halacha that only require one seal when being transported. This includes bread and cheese.
Why does the Shulchan Aruch say "chatichas dag," a piece of fish, rather than just saying dag, a whole fish? The answer is simple. With a whole fish, you can easily verify that it is kosher by checking that it has fins and scales. The case in the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch is where it has neither, so you need to rely on something else to verify that it is kosher. The kosher seals serve that purpose.
What happens if there was a problem and the food was not transported with the required seals? The basic halacha, as stated in the Shulchan Aruch, is that if food is sent with a non-Jew and it did not have the required chosam when one was needed, or it only had one chosam when two were needed, then it is forbidden to be eaten.
The Shulchan Aruch only refers to food being transported by non-Jews. What about a Jew who is non-religious? Does the halacha change? The Shulchan Aruch doesn't appear to deal with it, however, the Rema addresses the issue. He says that there are some opinions in the Rishonim who say that two chosamos are only required for a Jew who is chashud (suspected of eating non-kosher), but with a non-Jew, one chosam is enough for everything (even meat, fish and wine). What is the reasoning behind this? It is because the non-Jew knows that as soon as the food is delivered, somebody is going to be checking it to ensure that it was not tampered with. This fear will add some deterrence to his interfering with the food and so only one chosam is necessary. But the Jew who is chashud will feel more secure to switch the food because he assumes that the person receiving the food will trust him that it was not tampered with.
The Rema agrees with the Shulchan Aruch that lechatchilah (a priori), we need two chosamos when sending the more strict food type. However, the Rema is more lenient than the Shulchan Aruch because he says that b'dieved (post facto), if it was sent with a non-Jew with only one siman when it actually required two, you can rely on those opinions in the Rishonim that two chosamos is only for sending with a Jew who is chashud.
The Shach clarifies one last point. The expression used by the Shulchan Aruch is in the past tense ("deposited, or sent with a non-Jew"), as if it already happened. Usually we infer from this type of expression that the halacha is only b'dieved. So perhaps one should always try to send food using only a Jew? The Shach tells us that as long as we are sealing the food with the correct number of seals, then we can send the food with a non-Jew even lechatchilah.
Next week we will explore whether one needs to seal food when leaving it alone with non-Jews, such as in an office fridge, or at home with the housekeeper.