When packaging smoked fish, certain conditions apply

Proper packaging helps to maintain a safe seafood product.

It is important for commercial fish smoking operations to have a well-designed facility and processes that will mitigate the risk of hazards and enhance food safety. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed regulations that help the operator better understand the requirements for the packaging portion of the commercial fish smoking processes. An operator, or someone seeking to start up a commercial seafood business will need to demonstrate packaging processes and have a packaging facility that meets the requirements for safe packaging.

Generally speaking, the packaging portion of the commercial fish smoking operation should be physically segregated from the other areas in the operation. This will minimize the risk of cross contamination from raw fish or fish that has not been fully processes, or the materials used to process raw fish. The packaging should be done in a separate room, from the rest of the process, with measures taken to make sure that air movement from raw processing does not move into the packaging area. Closed doors, air lock passages between rooms and separate water should be considered in planning the packaging room.

Personnel that are handling raw or partially processed fish should not enter the packaging room. This is due to clothing worn by the worker or the workers hands may introduce harmful microorganisms. Additionally workers who have handled waste or other unsanitary items should be excluded from the packaging area. If an individual who has handled unsanitary items needs to go into the packaging area, a protocol to prevent harmful microorganisms entering the packaging facility should be established. This would include, but not necessarily limited to, proper hand-washing, change out of soiled clothing and a change into clean clothing.

The tools and equipment that used in the raw fish and smoking process should not be used in packaging. The packaging room should have it’s own set of tools necessary to complete the process. Materials used in packaging should be properly kept and stored in an area separate from cleaning supplies or raw fish product.

Michigan State University Extension and Innovation Counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center assist food business operators 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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