Fish and seafood plant sanitization has been a significant area of concern. Whether it’s fish and seafood harvesting, the direct sanitation of fish and seafood, producing sanitized ice for transportation and storage of raw materials and finished products, pressure spraying and fogging of factories and plants, or the elimination of harmful sanitization and disinfectant chemicals for employee safety – the industry faces a myriad of challenges. The answer goes beyond simply figuring out how to sanitize jars for canning, or how to disinfect a cutting surface areas in a busy plant. And the solution is in using leading edge Electrolyzed Oxidizing Water (EOW) systems.
Size Does Matter
Since contamination is a key driver of reducing seafood shelf life, the industry must focus on eliminating all sources of it. And the challenges faced, in doing that, seems insurmountable – at first. As an owner of a seafood establishment, you may be interested in how to disinfect floors in a large seafood plant. Extensive floor space, multiple operating environments, multi-story plants, and a continuous stream of visitors, staff, and external contractors, makes protecting your floors vital. And, if your establishment has multiple concrete flooring surfaces, the question uppermost on your mind may also be: How to disinfect poured floors? Or how to prevent contaminants on other flooring surfaces from impacting seafood shelf life?
But seafood shelf life extension isn’t just a concern for multi-wing or multi-level processing plants and warehouses. Even small to mid-sized establishment operators are constantly wondering about contaminants that can drastically reduce seafood shelf life. For a relatively small seafood processor, a single incident of contamination may, in fact, prove more devastating than multiple incidents at larger plants. That’s because potential sources of contaminants – such as raw materials, tools, work surfaces – have closer packing density in a small factory, compared to multi-level plants.
While the “how to disinfect floors?” question must still be front and center, the fact that smaller seafood plants have comparatively smaller floor space for contaminants to infect, make floor-borne pathogens slightly (though still concerning) less of a challenge to address. For such operators, therefore, questions such as how to sanitize jars for canning, might be of greater significance. Once again, relatively speaking, fewer contaminated seafood canning jars may impact the shelf life of a significant amount of inventory of a small-medium establishment. For extremely large operators, a single batch of contaminated jars might not have as big a financial impact.
Processes Matter Too
The challenge of extending seafood shelf life is also heavily impacted by the process employed at the plant. A small plant, that only cuts and packs raw seafood, for further processing by other external partners, may worry about how to sanitize cutting surface areas, depending on the significant role a particular step (cutting, chopping etc.) plays in the overall process. Additionally, compared to fully automated plants, manually-intensive seafood chopping and cutting processes are more susceptible to shelf life-reducing contaminants.
The type of seafood product being manufactured/prepared, and the related processes used, may also have a direct bearing on shelf life. For example, cold smoked salmon items are considered a ‘raw, ready-to-eat’ product, and therefore, require different disinfecting and sanitization protocols. Depending on how raw fish is initially washed, to prevent chemical residue on the fish, the FDA requires that such products undergo a secondary wash with potable city water. While this two-step wash process aids in extending shelf life, it is also time consuming and labor intensive.
In summary, while processes are critical elements in seafood shelf life reduction, multiple food contact surfaces need to be considered when determining the best solution for disinfectant / decontamination. These include floors, cutting surfaces, storage shelves, and countertops.
Addressing the Challenges
Over the past decade or more, there has been substantial scientific and technological development to aid in the extension of seafood shelf life. One significant breakthrough is the use of Electrolyzed Oxidizing Water (EOW), which has found useful application across a broad spectrum of the fish and seafood processing industry. From the burning question about how to sanitize a cutting surface, to making work tools and counter surfaces safe, and dealing with the challenge of how to disinfect floors – EWO’s application spans them all, including:
- Storing and sanitation of fish and seafood at harvest
- Generating sanitized ice for storing and transporting
- Employee hand and feet sanitation entering the facilities
- Sanitation of processing tools and equipment
- Sanitation of floors and food contact surfaces
- Dislodging bioflim and sanitizing pipes and closed systems
In seafood processing plants, where owners/operators switched to EOW systems, there have been documented improvements in microbiological results following rinsing of raw fish with EOW.
There was no detrimental impact on the physical characteristics of the raw material either. Lab tests indicated Water Phase Salt (WPS) of 3.90%, water activity (Aw) of 0.97, and pH levels of 6.06 – all of which were well within the tolerance limits of the plant’s operations. These results, therefore, contributed significantly in reducing potential contamination at source, and thereby increasing shelf life of the raw and processed seafood.
Reaping the Benefits
For seafood industry operators wondering how to disinfect a cutting surface, or those concerned about disinfecting floors, or processing equipment and tools, switching to EOW is the ideal way to reap the benefits of developments in sanitization and disinfection technology. While manually-operated processes may be deployed to produce and disperse EWO, a better option is to embrace automated processes with a track record of delivering real benefits.
Having in-house capability to produce disinfectant and sanitization fluids in-house also eliminates the need for seafood industry establishments from purchasing, transporting, storing, and preparing of toxic concentrated chemicals. The best part of using proven seafood industry sanitization and disinfection solutions, from companies such as EcoloxTech’s Electrolyzed Water System, is that you get immediate benefits. You’ll not only see reduced costs, but you’ll also simplify your processes, cut down on manual workload, and remove dependence on less environmentally friendly chemicals.