SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has published a new national standard that will ensure that consumers have access to fresh and quality fish, marine molluscs and crustaceans.

South African National Standard (SANS) 3091 specifies the requirements for the handling, preparation, processing, packaging, transportation, storage and quality of chilled finfish, marine molluscs and crustaceans and products derived therefrom that are intended for human consumption.

It also outlines requirements for factories and employees involved in the production of chilled finfish, marine molluscs, crustaceans and products derived therefrom.

“Ensuring the quality of our food and setting out the requirements has numerous benefits: firstly we have healthy and disease-free food that is imported or locally produced, farming practices or aquaculture will be transformed to ensure that marine products can grow in a healthy environment and thus assist in preserving our oceans,” said Jodi Scholtz, Lead Administrator of the SABS.

She also noted that it will also boost the economy in that the products for export, that comply with SANS 3091 will enjoy a competitive advantage.

South Africa’s fishing sector, will benefit from national standards such as SANS 3091, in conjunction with other standards relating to the health and preservation of marine life and oceans – has the potential to ignite a sustainable fishing sector in the years to come,” she said.

SANS 3091 includes requirements for the handling of the food products such as the water quality, the temperature, the microbiological safety including observing the freshness of the fish such as not having an odour of sourness, bright clear and moist eyes, bright red gills, firm and elastic flesh, etc.

In species such as tuna, yellowtail, mackerel the flesh should be pink or dark red. Guidelines are provided for the various cuts of fish to allow for standardisation of sizes, portions and labelling to benefit consumers.

The national standard provides guidelines for the processing of shrimp, prawns, langoustines, lobsters and abalone.

“It is important to remember that SANS 3091 does not cover every species, however the national standard must be used in conjunction with other standards.

“For example manufacturers of chilled smoked fish or smoke-flavoured finfish will need to refer to SANS 2877 as well,” explains Scholtz.

She urged factories and companies that are involved in the fishing industry to become familiar with the new standard to ensure that aquaculture products comply with the requirements.

Retailers and consumers on the other hand will benefit by understanding the quality requirements of the products that they sell and buy.

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