Fish processors, traders urged to adopt scientific preservation methods

Accra- Mr Francis Kingsley Ato Cudjoe, the Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has urged fish processors and traders to adopt scientific fish processing and preservation methods to ensure safety.

The current fish smoking and drying processes safety limitations including the contamination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, is a known public health hazard.

Mr Cudjoe said this at the launching of a fish processors and traders certification programme in Accra organised by the USAID funded Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP).

The occasion was used to present certificate and labels to 13 out of 32 fish processors and processing farms who signed up for certification.

The certification initiative dubbed Class One Recognition Scheme is aimed at ensuring that fish processors and traders adopted internationally accepted requirements for safe and hygienic handling and processing of fish.

It is also to improve market access and income of fishers, serve as guidelines for the regulation and production of safe and healthy smoked fish as well as serve as a monitoring tool for compliance.

Mr Cudjoe said the poor product quality and unhygienic handling practices were a major concern in the local fish processing industry.

He further noted that the illegal use of chemicals and explosives in fishing were a major contributor to poor quality fish catch and a cause of microbiological contamination that occurred through the value-chain, as well as the processing and storage stages.

Mr Samuel Manu, Post-Harvest Unit of the Ministry, giving an overview of the scheme, said it was the first of three proposed levels of the implementation of hygienic standards in the sector.

He said the ministry designed it, in collaboration With the Food and Drugs Authority, Food Research Institute, Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), some Public Universities, Civil Society Organisations in the sector, and others with support from the USAID SFMP.

Mr Manu said the certificates were to be renewed annually by the processors after an audit at the cost of GH?100, which included the printing of the certificates and 500 copies of healthy fish labels.

He said the certificate could be withdrawn if there was cause to believe that the fish was exposed to risk of contamination or a misuse of the label, such as counterfeit, transfer or alteration.

Mr Steven E. Hendrix, Deputy Mission Director of USAlD-Ghana, commended the Ministry for taking steps to improve fish processing in the country.

Mr Hendrix, noted that ensuring that processors can work in a clean, hygienic environment and encouraging the use of the Ahotor ovens that reduce harmful smoke emissions will greatly benefit the health of these women, their families, and their communities.

He said fish processing steps are often done in the same physical area, which increases the risks of cross-contamination between freshly delivered raw fish and finished products.

Source: Ghana News Agency