OPERATIONALISED PROCESSING PLANT ADDS VALUE TO FISHERIES PRODUCT
Friday 27th May 2011
Journalists spanning various media houses, locally experienced first-hand the operations at the fully operationalised processing plant at the Point Wharf Fisheries Complex, Thursdays.
Complex Co-ordinator Elton Ryan, said the processing
plant that was commissioned in 2006 has multiple functions, and operates in compliance with the European Union Regulations (EU) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) standards which deal with system in fish processing establishments.
HACCP is classified as a “preventative-based” food safety system.
For decades, Antigua-Barbuda has export seafood to the neighbouring French territory Guadeloupe, and during the tour of the facility, media personnel were exposed to the principle of quality management and process-oriented control throughout the production chain from the arrival of the catch, until it leaves the facility.
“From the moment the fish arrived at the facility records on the temperature, condition of the catch have to be taken. That record has to be kept for at least 3 –years,” said Ryan, he explained that the temperature must be controlled in an effort to maintain the freshness of the product.
As it relates to the HACCP conditions, Ryan noted that “the fish must be processed in a sterile condition, cleaned and iced in water 32 degrees F or less.
Chief Fisheries Officer Cheryl Jeffrey- Appleton –said the plant was designed to assist Antigua to export seafood to the EU.
She noted that much emphasis is being placed on sanitation and quality given formation of the single European Market in January 1993, with legislation governing the production of food were harmonised throughout the European Union (EU), which is an indication that the same rules applies in all EU countries.
Strict guidelines were taken into consideration to prevent cross contamination from the outside of the plant, to the inside and into the processing room.
Only parties wearing sanitized booths were allowed in the plants. Other measures such as the sexes entering the premises through separate lockers, covering of the head, hand washing and walking through sanitized water were employed as sanitation measures.
Ryan stressed that, “the processing plant is deep cleaned every afternoon, all equipment are cleaned immediately after use and persons are encouraged to wash hands before handling the facility.”
Additionally, he noted that the facility is cleaned at least six times daily.
Ryan noted that the pre –processing room, vestibule, chilled room, processing room and packaging rooms each have their own hand washing facility.
Processing Plant Supervisor Brent Simon also weigh in on issues relating to sanitation, as he demonstrated the use of the slicing machine, with fish donated by Mr. Fresh Fish.
Simon explained the mechanism of curtain; doors and ultra violet (a light electrical grid) insect killers are installed to stave off the flies. This he said is an important measure to prevent contamination.
Jeffery-Appleton also emphasised the importance to adhere to the measures in place to prevent the stench associated with fish.
The chief fisheries officer disclosed, that the unit currently offers several services for fishermen and wholesalers.
She noted that the facility does not compete directly with fishermen but add value to the product for commercial exports in a sterile condition.
Among the services provided are fillet, fish sticks, vacuum pack, plastic wrap, cleaning, glut/ ice and scale.
Jeffery-Appleton disclosed further another technology is also available that will add value by smoking, salting and drying. She gave an example such as tuna.
The processing plant also has the capacity to produce fish balls and fish burger.
The Fisheries Division is a department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment.
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