You are on page 1of 22


Fish Processing
-includes the different processes and techniques employed in post harvest handling,
processing and marketing of aquatic products from the time of harvest to final
Responsible Fisheries Post Harvest and Marketing
-involves optimum utilization of the catch through the use of technologies that will
ensure the sustainable production of quality and safe fish and fishery products while
realizing maximum profit to processors.
Fish Composition








Minerals (Ca, P, Fe, Mg,Cu)

0.1 5%

Vitamins (A,D,thiamin, B12, riboflavin,

nicotinic acid)


Fish Classification based on lipid content

Fatty fish has more than 5% lipid
Medium fatty fish has 2-5% lipid
Lean fish has less than 2% lipid
Types of Fish Muscle
White/Light Muscle makes up the bulk of the edible portion; non-pigmented;
about 90% of the muscle
Red/Dark muscle or dark muscle; fans out on either side of the lateral line;
color is due to the pigment myoglobin.

comprises about 10% of the muscle; in typical white fish.

with high levels of hemoglobin, histidine. lipids and enzymes

very prone to oxidation

Pelagic species- more dark muscles than demersal ; up to 48%

Rational Utilization of Fish Parts (Bykov 1974)


Main Components


Body meat

Protein, oil, non-protein


Food products

Roe (eggs)

Protein, oil


Food products


Glue, pearl



N substance oil, Vit. A


Vitamin prepn,

N substances, oil

Fish meal, oil

Fish Spoilage
Spoilage is a result of a series of complicated changes brought about mainly
by enzymatic and bacterial action.
Shelflife- time when the product is perceived as being different by a certain
Stages of Spoilage:
Rigor Mortis Autolysis Bacterial Decomposition Lipid oxidation
Rigor mortis
-progressive stiffening of the fish muscle after death, starts from the tail to the
-delay on its onset prolongs keeping time of the fish
-its end marks the start of bacterial spoilage
-O stop ATP production Onset of Rigor

Lactic acid- formed from glycolysis because of the absence of oxygen.

-dec. pH closer to protein isoelectric point decreases water binding capacity
Agents of spoilage
1. ENZYMES which is either found in the fish tissues or elaborated by
microorganisms during growth.;

endogenous inherent in the organism

AUTOLYSIS- self-breakdown or self-digestion that results to the weakening,

softening and discoloration of fish tissues

Cathepsins-lysosomal proteases present in fish muscles

2. CHEMICAL REACTION that are not mainly due to enzymes, such as lipid

Lipid Autolysis- enzymatic hydrolysis of fatty acid and glycerol

Autooxidation- reaction of unsaturated lipid with oxygen.
malonaldehydes, peroxides

3. MICROORGANISMS which may be present in the gills or on the surface

(originating from the water from which fish is taken or may be picked up during
post-harvest handling)

the quality of water where the fish is caught determines the amount of

Organoleptic changes in fish

The lower the K value the better

Standard Values
Fresh Fish

< 20%

Rejected value

> 60%


> 50% rejected

2. Changes in Carbohydrates
Glycogen --- Glucose--- CO2 + H2O



Glycogen --- Glucose ---- Lactic acid

Bacterial load:
Freshly caught fish: normal load: 102 104 cfu /g
Trawl caught : 105 106 cfu/g
Purse seine caught: 102 104 cfu/g
Spoiled fish : 107 108 cfu/g

Types of bacteria
1. psychrophilic loves low temperature

Ice stored fish Alteromonas sp., Achromobacter sp., Flavobacter sp.

Shrimp on ice: Alteromonas sp., Moraxella sp., Vibrio parahaemolyticus,
Bacillus sp.

2. Mesophilic loves ambient temp

3. Thermophilic loves high temperature

Fish at 35 55 oC:. - Bacillus sp., Micrococcus sp.,


1. Degradation of Trimethylamine
** only marine species has TMAO (trimethylamine oxide) use for
** Turbot the only freshwater that has TMAO
** Elasmobranches high in TMAO
2. formation of Dimethylamine (DMA) & Formaldehyde (FA)
3. Histamine Formation

relevant in scombroid species

formation via enzymatic activity associated with bacteria

Bacterial histidine decarboxylase-sensitive to temperature higher than RT

Potassium sorbate- inhibits growth of histamine-producing bacteria.

Methods of Preserving /Processing Fish

1.Temperature control - use of high/low temperature
2. Use of additives
3. Use of packaging technologies
4. Removal of moisture -salting, drying/dehydration, smoking
5. Other processing methodologies marinating, fermentation, minced fish

Use of Low temperature
Chilling -aims to cool fish as quickly as possible to as low temperature as possible
without freezing

the colder the fish, the greater the reduction in bacterial and enzymatic

ICE -an ideal cooling media; with very large cooling capacity
-harmless, comparatively cheap, can quickly cool
-occurs in different forms: crushed, tube, flaked, blocks
Properties of Ice:
Ice requires a lot of heat to melt
Latent heat of fusion heat required to change a solid to a liquid
-1 kg of ice needs 80 kcal of heat to melt
Kilocalorie amount of heat required to raise the temperature to 1 oC
Specific Heat the capacity of the substance to hold heat when compared with

water =1

wet fish = 0.96

Ice = 0.5

air = 0.25

frozen fish = 0.4

most metals = 0.1

Useful Formula to calculate the amount of heat to be removed to cool a substance:

Q = mcT

Q = amount of heat to be removed (kcal/hr

m = weight of the substance (kg)
c = specific heat (kcal/kg-h- oC)
T = change in temperature (oC)

To calculate how much ice is needed:

Amount of ice = Q/LHF
Ex.1. Calculate the minimum amount of ice needed to
maintain 100kg fish in 25 oC temperature.

Q = mcT
Q = (100 kg) (0.96) (25oC)
= 2400kcal/kg
Amount of ice = Q/LHF
= 2400 kcal/kg / 80kcal
= 30 kg minimum ice need to cool fish
Other chilling media:
1. COLD AIR refrigerated or cold air is passed over fish in a chill room.
2.SEA-WATER ICE adv. Longer time to thaw;
disadv. Uneven chilling / freezing;
fish may absorb salt
- offers more disadvantage than
freshwater ice.

-superchilling media
-offers advantages such as : rapid
cooling; easier loading of fish; fish are
not squashed or crushed;best for big
volume of fish catch
change in the physical state of a substance from a liquid to a solid, in which
energy or latent heat has to be removed from the substance.
considered an excellent process for preserving the quality of fish for longer
period of time.
<-10oC- most microbial activities stop.
Ideally, there should be no distinguishable changes between fresh and frozen
products after thawing.
Biological changes are very minimal.
A series of chemical, physical and histological changes occur in frozen fish
during excessively prolonged cold storage at temperatures below 30 oC
Partial and mild dehydration

Stages of Freezing
1. Stage 1- denoted by the fall of temperature
-removal of heat up to 0 oC
2. Stage 2-conversion of water to ice; crystallization of water.

- critical zone or period of thermal arrest

- at around -1oC
3. Stage 3- further cooling of frozen fish until it attains a
temperature of -30 oC

Air blast freezer - blowing a continuous stream of cold air
over the fish.
Contact or plate freezer direct contact between fish and
a refrigerated surface.
Immersion in, or spraying with a refrigerated liquid
Liquid nitrogen (spray) freezer; nitrogen gas (-50 oC)
-liquid nitrogen (-196oC)
Carbon (injection) freezer
Liquid refrigerant (spray-immersion) freezer R12 (dichlorofluromethane) (30oC)
Immersion freezer 85% saturated brine solution (-21 oC)
1. BOILING the fish is boiled with or without salt for shelf-life extension or as a preprocessing treatment.

2. THERMAL PROCESSING a process that involves the application of heat to

food inside a hermetically sealed container
used to prevent food spoilage and also offers convenience due to long
shelf-stability of canned foods
also known as appertisation to some due to the inventor during civil
bottled, canned, or tetrapacked (retortable pouches)
1. Raw material quality - must always start with fresh fish
2. Container size - larger containers have higher initial microbial loads.
- will determine processing time.
3. Method of heat transfer

4. Product Acidity

PASTEURIZATION a mild heat treatment given to foods that do not support the
growth of highly heat resistant microorganisms.

STERILIZATION a severe heat treatment given to foods capable of supporting

the growth of heat
resistant microorganisms.
Absolute Sterilization complete destruction of virtually all
- not very good for food processing; destroys even
texture of food.
Commercial Sterilization aims to destroy the contaminating Clostridium
botulinum and other heat sensitive microorganisms
UHT ultra high temperature high temperature but short processing time

Decimal reduction time (D-value) the time required for the survivor curve to
traverse one logarithmic cycle at a specified temperature.
- the time needed to destroy 90% (1 log cycle) of the total microorganism.
- there is no such thing as 100% destruction of microorganisms
e.g. D121.1 = 1.0 min ---- 1 minute is required to reduce by 90% the
population of a bacteria
D-value - an index of heat resistance; species specific


F value -unit used for sterilization
-as defined, the equivalent, in minutes at some reference temperature, of
all heat considered with respect to its capacity to destroy spores or vegetative cells
of a particular organism (Stumbo, 1973) using this definition
Fo = t = D (log No log Ns)
measures the cumulative lethal effects of processing temperature and the time over
which the product is heated.
Gillespy Method- method used to calculate for the process severity of NONSCHEDULED PROCESS
Equipment failure
Power loss
Drop of steam pressure
Types of NON-SCHEDULED processes
The process is more severe than specified.
The process is less severe than specified.
Recycling- refers to the operations where heat sterilized produce is removed from
cans and mixed with fresh products at an earlier stage of production process.
Reprocessing- refers to the operation where processed product is subjected to a
second full heat sterilization process.

Extended processing- refers to the operation where the sterilizing process is

continued beyond the usual period of heating to achieve commercial sterility.
Reworking- refers to the operation where product is removed from cans which
have not been subjected to any heat sterilization process and either filled into
new cans or mixed with another batch at an earlier stage in the production
Flat sour due to B.stereothermophilus; can usually flat with possible lost of
vacuum; lowered pH with souring odor.
Thermophilic anaerobe due to C. saccharolyticum; can swells then burst, has
fermented, butyric smell.
Sulphide stinker due to C. nigrificans, can can usually flat; has foul smell; H 2S
production; produce black spores
Putrefactive anaerobes due to C. sporogenes, C. botulinum; can swells then burst;
has product digestion with putrid odors and pH increase
In Acid Foods
Flat Sour due to B. thermoacidulans and B. coagulans, can usually flat; little
vacuum change lower pH with souring off odor
Butyric anaerobe due to C. butyricum and C. pasteurianum; can swells then burst;
has fermented, butyric smell
Non-spore formers, mainly lactic acid bacteria soft swells, with acid flavor and
Yeast can swells then burst; has fermented yeasty odor
Moulds flat can with surface growth.


Spoilage due to microbial causes
Hydrogen swell can bulge due to production of hydrogen gas from internal
corrosion; caused by bumps in the can
Hard swell swell on both sides; can could explode
Soft swell swell when pressed but goes back to original shape

Springer when pressed on 1 side swell transfer to the other.

Physical defects (e.g. paneling, rust formation) could be generally due
to faulty retort operation, mishandling, etc.
Curd formation soft white to stiff gray coagulated mass on the cut surface
of the meat.
Struvite formation odorless, generally harmless, tasteless crystals of
magnesium ammonium phosphate; resemble glass fragments and are often
mistaken as such.
Honeycombing very common to tuna; characterized by presence of pits in
the tissue; happens when the raw material is no longer fresh
Histamine formation in canned tuna and tuna-like species.


Impurities in salt:
a) insoluble matters sand
b) Chemical substances MgCl, CaSO4
c) Microbial impurities
Preservative Action of Salt
High osmotic pressure and gives rise to plasmolysis of the cell
Na causes toxicity to the microbial cells
NaCl denatures the enzymes
Blocks the protein nuclei of enzymes
Methods of Salting
Dry salting layer of salt fish salt fish
Wet salting
Brining make brine solution (supersaturated solution)
Pickle curing similar to dry salting only; the moisture is not drained off.
** salting may be a unit operation (only part of other processes)

Factors affecting salting rate

Brine strength or concentration the brine strength - salt penetration
soaking time - the salt penetration

temperature faster penetration ONLY that

temperature would encourage microbial growth thus temperature is

The in size and shape the rate of salt penetration
thicker the fin and skin the the penetration
ratio of fish to brine - the salt penetration
Spoilage of Salted fish
1. Pink or reddening- Pseudomonas salinaria and Sarcina littoralis
2. Dun-Wallemia spp.
3. Sliming-slime-producing bacteria
4. Salt burn-consequence of using fine grained salt.
5. Putty fish-occurs in thick parts of the fish
-Drying vs dehydration
-Water activity
2 Phases of Drying
1. Constant rate period- the rate of evaporation is uniform.
2. Falling rate period- there are more barriers that prevent free movement of
water to the surface. - rate of drying continues to decrease and becomes
negligibly small as the water content of the fish muscle approaches an
equilibrium value.
Humidity - in mechanical dryers is measured by the use of the wet bulb and dry
bulb temperature. collectively known as PSYCHROMETER
DRY BULB TEMP-referred to as air temp. An indicator of heat content of air.
WET BULB TEMP- associated with the moisture content of air.

WET BULB DEPRESSION- difference between the dry bulb and wet bulb
temperatures. its magnitude is directly related to the rate of evaporation
FERMENTATION - the breakdown of organic compounds into its simpler components
mainly by action of enzymes aided by microorganisms.
Classification of fish fermented products:
1. Group 1- those containing salt concentrations with 15-20% in the final product.
e.g. Fish paste and Fish sauce
2. Group II- those employing the process of fermentation with the generation of
organic acids. e.g. burong isda
3. Group III- those employing preservatives or mineral acids to eliminate the
microflora. e.g. addition of strong acids on forage crops.
4. Group IV- those employing an initial dosage of organic acids or other
preservatives instead of mineral acids. e.g. fish silages

often its salted first; smoke deposition is faster when it is surface dried.

Pellicle surface of the fish that smoke is deposited; will be determined by the
drying process.
1. Hot smoking = 60oC 15 mins; cooks the meat
2. Cold smoking = 30oC 6-10 hours smoking; do not cook the meat; used for
tangige; salmon
Phenols chemical that gives smoked fish the distinct flavor
Torry kiln smoking device that could process 150 kg/batch
Mechanical dryer could control the environment, humidity, temperature,
and air velocity relative humidity more difficult to smoke; may take about 1.5
Adulteration of the products coloring fish with dye or the use of liquid
Poor quality : a poor product is expected when the starting material is not

Health problems associated with smoked fish

Presence of some PAH compounds -only produced in very high temperature
Presence of mycotoxins
Food poisoning associated with improper hygiene
Symptoms : vomiting, diarrhea
Botulism often in vacuum pack fish. - to avoid fry the product before
Scombroid poisoning caused by histamine
Cause : poor raw material before smoking
Packaging materials and methods:

designed to protect the environment from a packaged product

designed to protect the environment from a packaged product

critical factor in shelf-life extension

Three Levels Of Packaging:

Primary or commodity packaging

Secondary packaging or cartooning

Tertiary packaging or palletizing

Common Packaging Materials

Paper and Boards- manufactured from various pulps with the addition of
fillers such as clay and synthetic resinous materials to resist water
o have poor barrier properties against gases and moisture vapor.
o These properties can however be improved through lamination with
other materials such as wax and plastics.
o Wax lamination provides a moisture barrier and favors the heat sealing
properties of paper.
Kraft paper-most common paper packaging used for bags, wrappers or
boards, made from wood pulp employing a sulfate manufacturing process. It
can be laminated with polyethylene or aluminum foil to give a waterproof

Cellulose- commonly known as cellophane, a thin, transparent, impervious to

bacteria, grease proof, cheap and durable at low temperatures. As is, a weak
packaging material.
Nitrocellulose-coated cellophane is a good barrier to moisture, is flexible and
is heat sealable.
Polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) or saran-coated cellulose- is a superb barrier
to both moisture and gas.
Plastics- comprise a wide range of materials that can be molded, cast,
extruded or laminated into various shapes. Manufactured from petroleum,
natural gas and coal. Most have
Rigid or hard plastics-extensively used in the production of trays and form-fill
packs for retail packaging of aquatic products. These plastics are usually
manufactured using polystyrene, expanded polystyrene and polyvinyl
Films- manufactured through extrusion of plastic granules using an extruder.
-are web materials with thickness not exceeding 0.25 mm are considered

Basic films
1. Polyethylene (PE)- also known as polythene and is the most commonly used
of the packaging materials due to its low cost, relative strength and flexibility
even at low temperatures. It is heat sealable but cannot be utilized in the
manufacture of boil-in-bag pouches.
2. Polypropylene (PP)-has better protective properties than PE particularly at
higher temperatures. Has poor qualities at lower temperatures and becomes
3. Polyamide (PA)- commonly known as nylon, manufactured by condensation of
a diacid and diamine. It is tough, grease resistant, less permeable to gases,
and has a higher moisture permeability than PE. PA is stable over a wide
range of temperatures and thus can be used in boil-in-bag pouches.
4. Polyester (PET)- relatively expensive but has excellent gloss, low gas
permeability, low moisture transmission, high tensile strength and can be
used in a very wide variety range of temperatures up to 300 oC. Oftentimes
laminated with polyethylene due to its poor heat sealing properties.
5. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)-It is hard and stiff but clear and glossy, grease
resistant and brittle at all temperatures. Can be thermoformed into tubs and

Polyvinylidine chloride (PVDC)- commercially known as saran or cryovacs.

One of the most protective of all plastic films, shrinkable, capable of

withstanding low freezing temperatures but difficult to print on and

7. Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA)- has good compact strength, good permeability
and high cling attributes. The material is used ion the lamination of frozen
food packs .
LAMINATES- are made of two or more basic films held together by adhesives.
Coextrusion-simple operation wherein various films are extruded together.
Ex. Boil-in-bag- mostly used for prepared products or those which require
light cooking. Modified polyethylene with polyester or nylon lamination gives
a suitable material for this type of container.
Retort Pouch Packs-made from laminates of polyester/aluminum film and a
polyolefine such as polyethylene or polypropylene.
GLAZING - a process of forming a thin continuous film of ice on the whole outer
surface of frozen fish.
-used to provide protective barrier against lipid oxidation and
-product is dipped in cold water to form ice around the fish.
USE OF PACKAGING MATERIAL use of one or a combination of two or more
-films have different physical properties, including toughness, flexibility,
permeability (oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrogen)
e.g. PVdC, PVC, PE, PP, PS
VACUUM PACKAGING involves the removal of oxygen (air) from the package in
order to prevent lipid oxidation
MODIFIED ATMOSPHERE PACKAGING (MAP) contains CO2 as antibacterial agent
a) replace oxygen for bacterial growth;
b) acidifies bacterial cells fast;
c) alters physical properties of cell walls;

d) interferes with metabolic pathways, nitrogen (provides anaerobic environment)

and oxygen

any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be

expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component or
otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food (including any substance
intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing,
treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food; and including any source of
radiation intended for any such use), if such substance is not generally
recognized (sic), among experts qualified by scientific training and
experience to evaluate its safety as having been adequately shown through
scientific procedures to be safe under the conditions of the intended use.
(PFAD, 1987)


Ideally, a food additive should serve one or more of the following purposes:

To preserve nutritional quality

To provide necessary ingredients for dietary needs

To enhance quality

To enhance keeping quality

Most commonly used types of chemical additives:

EMULSIFIERS ensures that oil and water mixtures do not separate into layers
e.g. propylene glycol, sucrose esters, lecithin

THICKENING AGENTS to enhance texture and to ensure uniform consistency

e.g. carrageenan, binding agents, (polyphosphate)
FLAVOUR ENHANCER improve or enhance existing flavour or aroma
e.g. MSG, inosinates
ANTIOXIDANTS - improves keeping quality via prevention of lipid oxidation
e.g. ascorbic/citric acid, erythorbic acid, BHT, BHA

ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS to prevent growth of bacteria, yeast and molds

e.g. potassium sorbate (KS)
Filth- products contain filth (including insect, rodent, cat, bird and animal
filth), putrid or decomposed substances.
Process- manufacturer has not filed the required documentation
Manufacturer is not registered as a Low Acid Canned Food (LACF) or
Acidified Food manufacturer
manufacturer is not registered as a food canning establishment (FCE)
the food may have been processed inadequately
Food may have been rendered injurious to health.
Labeling label does not contain the information required by the
Codex (Mandatory Labeling of Prepackaged Food)
Additives- product contains unsafe color additive, unsafe food additive
or excess sulfites
Microbiological hazard- products contain microorganisms that render it unfit
for human consumption
products contain toxins produced by microorganisms that render it
unfit for food.
Chemical hazards- products contain metals such as lead, tin etc. which are
injurous to health
Chemical Contaminants in Fish
Lead in tuna- a heavy metal contaminant that accumulates in the body
of migratory fishes
Codex- 0.3 ppm
EU- 0.2 ppm
Methyl mercury in fish- a heavy metal contaminant that accumulates in
the body of most types of fish.
Codex-0.5-1 ppm

EU -0.5 ppm
Philippines- 0.5 ppm
Carbon monoxide in yellowfin tuna- a chemical treatment to prolong
shelf life and retain color.
Japan, EU, Canada, Singapore- Prohibited
US-has to be indicated in the label
Tin in canned products
Codex- 200ppm in canned beverages

250 ppm in food other than beverage

Philippine Food Exports Detained in EU (2004-2006)

1. Additive-28%
2. Illegal import of meat products -20%
3. 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (MCPD) in soy sauce-15%
4. Aflatoxin in peanuts -13%
5. Packaging-12%
6. Carbon monoxide in yellowfin tuna loins -7%