The importance of Hygiene in a Fish Butchering, we need to start with an understanding of E-Coli.
- coli (Escherichia coli), is a type of bacteria that normally lives in your intestines. It’s also found in the gut of some animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless and even help keep your digestive tract healthy. But some strains can cause diarrhoea if you eat contaminated food or drink fouled water.
While many of us associate E. coli with food poisoning, you can also get pneumonia and urinary tract infections from different types of bacteria. In fact, 75% to 95% of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli. E. coli is a normal resident of the bowel, which is how it makes its way to the urinary tract. Some versions of E. coli make you sick by making a toxin called Shiga. This toxin damages the lining of your intestine. The strains of E. coli that make the toxin are sometimes called STEC, which is short for “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.”
A dangerous strain of E.coli, O157:H7, can make you very sick. It causes abdominal cramps, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. It is the leading cause of acute kidney failure in children. It can also cause life-threatening symptoms such as:
- Adult kidney failure
- Low fever <101*F
- Severe stomach cramps
How Does E. Coli Enter Humans?
A person can become infected when you swallow even a small amount of E. coli bacteria. Among the ways this can happen:
- Ground meat: Eating ground meat that carries E. coli, and the meat which wasn’t cooked enough to kill the bacteria. When meat is processed, bacteria from the animals’ intestines make their way into the meat.
- Untreated milk: Drinking unpasteurised milk, which hasn’t been heated to kill bacteria. E. coli get into the milk from the cow’s udder or from milking equipment.
- Vegetables and fruit: Eating fresh vegetables or fruit that’s tainted by water that has bacteria. This happens when manure from nearby animals mixes with the water supply.
- Water: Swallowing water that contains E. coli, while swimming in a pool, lake, or pond.
How does E. coli Enter through Fish?
Fish butchery shop does consist of a load of E. coli from various sources. The source includes the ice used in fish, butchery tables, butchery logs of wood, fish cleaning water, fish cutting knives, uncleaned clothes, transporting vehicles, etc. The bacteria from any of the locations can make their way into the fish muscle, amplifies in numbers, and reach the human body through food thereby causing infections.
VTF process to prevent E.coli
The process adopted at VTF ensures the prevention of disease-causing bacteria especially E.coli entering the human body which includes:
- VTF uses ice prepared from RO water to chill the fish and prevents the entry of bacteria from the ice.
- VTF uses RO water to wash fish and fish products which prevent the entry of bacteria from the water used.
- Fish is always handled using sterile gloves to prevent direct contact of the hand to the fish meat.
- Water used for washing the fish is replaced by new water at every step in the process to ensure the water is safe from bacteria.
- The butchery HDPE cutting board is used to cut the fish which prevents the entry of bacteria from the butchery accessories.
- The tools used for butchery like knives are cleaned in RO water on a periodically to prevent the entry of bacteria through knives.
- Follow a 100% traceable food chain for evaluation at any point in time.
(MSc Industrial Fisheries and Fish Biologist)