By Janet Krenn, Staff Writer
“90% of hazards can be prevented by sanitation,” says Abigail Villalba, Virginia Tech (VT) food safety specialist affiliated with Virginia Sea Grant (VASG). On September 29, Villalba led a sanitation workshop for seafood processors at the VT Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton, VA.
To have the greatest benefit to food safety, sanitation covers eight key areas, including processes for ensuring safe, clean water; preventing cross-contamination; and proactively identifying when additional staff training is necessary.
“Sanitation is the support program for HACCP,” says Mike Jahncke, VT center director affiliated with VASG. HACCP, short for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, is a program that requires food processors to identify control methods to prevent or eliminate food safety hazards or reduce them to an acceptable level.
If a facility can avoid conditions that lead to contamination in the first place, it may never need to take the corrective actions in its HACCP plan—which may include throwing away affected product.
HACCP plans are required for seafood processors, and the eight key sanitation conditions and practices must be monitored in real time. Villalba says, “We hope to show that monitoring and written Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures will help ensure safe, high quality seafood products.”
The one-day sanitation training included presentations from VT, Virginia Department of Health, and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Fourteen members of Virginia’s seafood processing industry attended the workshop.