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Consider Post-Gut Chilling to Increase Efficiency

12 April 2012, at 1:00am

GLOBAL - The main issue associated with chilling post-mortem prior to gutting is ensuring chill ratesare optimal for shelf life and quality, but the efficiency of the gutting process is also important, with the aim topack gutted fish as close to 0 Celcius (C) as possible, writes Mark Asman from SmartAqua.

Many existing processes actually deliver fish too cold for gutting which causes a type of "false rigor" leading to gutting machine miscuts, gut and kidney residue and an increase in fish bypassing to manual lines.

Post-gut chilling is not often used but is very efficient and the few process lines that have adopted this approach have seen large benefits. Simply add a small screwchiller for example after the gutting line and get a rapid drop in temperature due to the body cavity being open.

This also allows a buffer in production for any issues that occur downstream on the beltgrader or upstream at gutting and delivery. It also ensures fish that are packed gutted will be packed close to 0C which means the ice is only there to maintain quality by keeping conditions moist and humid as well as and a small allowance for breaks in the chill chain. This means the customer gets fish from a box full of ice and not a smelly bloody ice slurry.

This simple step makes your fish stand out from the great majority - especially during the warmer months, Mr Asman says.

So, consider gutting fish warm - many standards specify 4 C maximum for delivery to gutting but this needs reviewed where fish are pre-rigor, and post-gut chilling is used to rapidly drop temperature before packing.

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