Smoking fish for commercial use

Steps to take when smoking fish to reduce the risk of food safety problems.

After fish has been properly received and brined, the fish is then ready to be smoked. When arranging fish in the smoker, enough space should be left around the fish to insure adequate application of smoke. The arrangement should also insure that adequate heat, exposure and dehydration occur in the process. All surfaces must be moist or tacky at the start of smoking, and smoke must be applied to all surfaces of the fish. Liquid smoke products, or liquid smoke used in combination with generated smoke, must be used before the surface protein of the fish has dried enough to form a barrier that would prevent adequate smoking. If using a combination of liquid and generated smoke, generated smoke may begin at any stage of the process.

When smoking fish, internal temperature of the coldest part of the fish must reach and maintain a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 62.8 C for at least 30 minutes. Temperature should be taken on the thickest portion of the largest fish in the smoker. An accurate record of time and temperature during the smoking process must be kept. The record must include the time and date, including the month, day and year.

Each load through the smokehouse shall have a lot number that can be easily referenced to the time and temperature records. Additionally, the smoker, smoker compartment they weight, and volume and species of fish should be identified on lot data sheets. A facility manager must certify by initialing the smoking records prior to distribution. If these steps are followed, risk of food safety problems is mitigated.

Michigan State University Extension educators 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 Michigan State University Extension office. After fish has been properly received and brined, the fish is then ready to be smoked. When arranging fish in the smoker, enough space should be left around the fish to insure adequate application of smoke. The arrangement should also insure that adequate heat, exposure and dehydration occur in the process. All surfaces must be moist or tacky at the start of smoking, and smoke must be applied to all surfaces of the fish. Liquid smoke products, or liquid smoke used in combination with generated smoke, must be used before the surface protein of the fish has dried enough to form a barrier that would prevent adequate smoking. If using a combination of liquid and generated smoke, generated smoke may begin at any stage of the process.

When smoking fish, internal temperature of the coldest part of the fish must reach and maintain a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 62.8 C for at least 30 minutes. Temperature should be taken on the thickest portion of the largest fish in the smoker. An accurate record of time and temperature during the smoking process must be kept. The record must include the time and date, including the month, day and year.

Each load through the smokehouse shall have a lot number that can be easily referenced to the time and temperature records. Additionally, the smoker, smoker compartment they weight, and volume and species of fish should be identified on lot data sheets. A facility manager must certify by initialing the smoking records prior to distribution. If these steps are followed, risk of food safety problems is mitigated.

Michigan State University Extension educators 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 Michigan State University Extension office.  

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