Initial inspection of purchased fish is an important step producing seafood products

The procurement process should include adequate inspection to ensure food safety.

Many food processors buy fish to create seafood products to be sold retail to consumers. For these food processors, a standard operating procedure should be created for those responsible for receiving the product. This will ensure that the fish products being brought into the processing facility are indeed safe. This starts with understanding where the fish came from, and how it was handled, followed by inspection of the fish being received. Adequate documentation of the receiving process will help the processor; should food safety questions arise.

A physical inspection of the fish is the first step. The fish should be clean and free from all deterioration and spoilage. The fish should not have any foreign odors  or a smell of deterioration or spoilage. A certificate from the company issued to the purchaser is used to insure that the fish products have been handled, and transported with acceptable food safety procedures. Fish products should be stored, handled, processed and transported at a temperature of equal to or less than 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fresh fish should be inspected and washed prior to processing. Fish that has been received frozen should be processed, if possible, in a frozen state and subsequently maintained at a temperature that allows to fish to remain frozen. If the fish is to be thawed, it may only be done in a manner in which the internal temperature is maintained at less than or equal to 38 F. After thawing, fish should be washed before further processing.

Extension Educators at Michigan State University Extension and Innovation Counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center assist food processors in the establishment of good practices and in producing safe food products. For further information and assistance with employee communications please contact your local MSU Extension office. 

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