Attending training in Michigan helps representatives develop plans for smoked fish processing to deal with food safety hazards unique to the product.
A Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Training Course coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission was recently conducted at Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Three of those attending traveled from Nigeria to learn how to develop HACCP plans for smoked fish processing to deal with food safety hazards unique to this product. Two of them represented the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) that regulates processed and semi-processed food. The need for value-added and preservation of fish in Nigeria is in dire need because many fish farmers are faced with losses due to poor infrastructure.
Fish farming potential
The fish production sector of Nigeria’s economy is in a developmental phase and it currently contributes about 6 percent to the nation’s economy. Nigeria depends on imported fish to meet domestic demand. Currently almost 2 billion pounds of fish is produced locally while the annual demand for fish is around 6 billion pounds. This leads to a shortfall of more than 4 billion pounds that must be imported. However, recent developments in the agricultural sector of the economy has brought to light the potential of domestic fish farming. This has led to the continued rise in the production of freshwater fish with a focus on catfish and tilapia.
With the increase in fish production in Nigeria because of fish farming the need for fish preservation, including both dried and wet smoked, is becoming an urgent alternative for fish farmers to prevent economic losses. Most of the smoked fish in the open markets are currently being processed using traditional methods which are not regulated in any form. The commercial production, labeling, and marketing of smoked fish continues to evolve there.
Planning for the future
In preparation for future challenges NAFDAC embarked on capacity building for effective regulation and planning for the need to export smoke fish. The directorate of Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products (VMAP) participated in the Seafood HACCP course two years ago to acquire information on recent developments in Seafood HACCP applications to fish smoking, to understand the global prerequisite in fish preservation especially related fish smoking, and to develop detailed training from the training materials and knowledge acquired at the course. As a result they are committed to sending more people from Nigeria to Michigan for Seafood HACCP training.
The Seafood HACCP training has added value to the regulatory documents being developed for fish smoking on a commercial level. The Nigerian national agency looks forward to future participation in such training as a regulatory body and recommending the same for major stakeholders in Nigeria.