The Scottish salmon sector operates to the very highest standards of health, biosecurity and hygiene.
Such world leading standards and principles are ingrained within our sector and across all who farm, process and transport fish to the consumer.
Prior to Covid-19 these high standards already sought to prevent the transmission of any harmful organism (bacterial, viral), but have since been added to with tailored controls surrounding coronavirus prevention.
In Scotland, Local Authority Environmental Health Departments work in partnership with Food Standards Scotland, and undertake inspections and audits of all Scottish salmon processing facilities. These processing facilities all operate in compliance with the Food Safety Act and related legislation. Furthermore, all companies adopt third party accreditation schemes, which include high requirements surrounding health, hygiene and biosecurity.
It is useful to note that, not only are the sector’s exemplary standards of hygiene, biosecurity and health critical for human and fish health, but they have added, knock on benefits in terms of product quality.
Processing standards and protocols
All companies operate stringent hygiene and biosecurity protocols, as a minimum, in line with regulatory requirements of Food Standards Scotland. These protocols vary slightly from company to company, but can be broadly summarised as follows:
- All processing facilities must be designed to allow full clean and disinfection, inc. all walls and surfaces.
- Facilities are clearly divided into different biosecure zones: “outside” (which will include the canteen area), changing rooms, processing “side”.
- Transferring between zones requires the physical transfer across a zone (typically stepping over a barrier “into” the zone, followed by hand washing, addition of relevant PPE).
- All hand washing stations are operated NOT by hand – i.e. knee, elbow etc.
- PPE includes base overalls (covering personal clothes), boots, aprons, hair nets, gloves (often two layers), arm sleeves.
- PPE is a mix of disposable and reusable (which must be able to be washed and sterilised).
- PPE is replaced at every break and whenever anyone leaves the biosecure area. Boots are re-used but only within each biosecure zone, i.e. different boots for different zones. Boots are disinfected within each zone at key points whilst moving through the zone.
- Any PPE that is dropped onto the floor is discarded and replaced (with hand washing etc.).
- Full clean down and disinfect at the end of each shift, with regular “deep cleans” over and above standard clean.
Additional Covid-19 related protocols:
Following the emergence of Covid-19, companies have implemented additional protocols to further minimise any potential risks of virus transmission. These protocols include a mix of behavioural and physical changes, as follows:
- Social distancing (2m rule) has been implemented across the sector, including processing. This includes throughout the processing facility (canteen, smoking area, processing).
- In one instance, where the 2m rule could not be adopted, full face masks (shields) have been used as standard.
- Companies have adopted “split shifts” and phased break patterns to reduce the number of staff in different zones.
- Canteen areas have been set up with “one way” routes to limit personal interaction. Further, additional controls in the canteen include screening, more hand sanitisation stations, limiting staff numbers on break at same time
- Additional hand sanitation stations have been deployed throughout the processing facility.
- Increase in amount of handwashing and hand sterilisation.
- Increase in information (posters etc.), training, notification surrounding CV-19
- Masks / face shields available for all – but not compulsory
- Contractors are screened before coming onto site
- Extra transport put on to support social distancing when travelling to work
- Some companies are implementing additional clean and disinfection of surfaces
- Some companies have added screens between workstations within the processing zone.