The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) in the US has developed new regulations for packaging smoked fish, in a bid to mitigate the risk of hazards and enhance food safety.
The regulations aim to enhance operators' understanding of packaging requirements for commercial fish smoking processes.
Under the new norms, an operator or an individual who intends to start up a commercial seafood business has to demonstrate their packaging processes in a facility meeting safety requirements.
To minimise the risk of cross-contamination from raw fish, the packaging portion of smoked fish operations should be physically segregated from the other areas in the operation.
As per the guidelines suggested by the MDARD, the packaging of the smoked fish should be carried out in a separate room, ensuring that the air movement from raw processing does not move into the packaging area.
In addition, fish handlers should not enter the smoked fish packaging room, as there is a possibility of cross-contamination due to clothing worn by the worker or the workers hands may introduce harmful microorganisms.
The tools and equipment used for raw fish and smoking processing must also be different from those used in packaging.
Michigan State University Extension and Innovation Counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center are engaged in assisting food business operators in the establishment of good practises and in producing safe food products.