Importance of Quality Control in Seafoods in Industry

By Nazri, M. M. | Economic Review, August 1994 | Go to article overview

Importance of Quality Control in Seafoods in Industry


Nazri, M. M., Economic Review


A news item published in a daily newspaper, stated that the government of Pakistan has lost valuable foreign exchange it was earning through fish exports and that as a result its market credibility in the short run suffered, long-term implications would surely surface it warned if measures to immediately rectify the situations were not taken. Early in November 1993, the Government of Saudi Arabia, a substantial importer of seafood from Pakistan imposed an embargo on the import of seafood from Pakistan followed by United Arab Emirates (UAE). In a notification it explained that Pakistan had an outbreak of cholera and as such import of seafood from there was unfit for human consumption.

WHO's world Epide-miological report No. 41 issued at the end of October 1993 also reported that according to the Government of Pakistan's Ministry of Health, 203 Cholera cases had been reported throughout North and South of Pakistan. Seafood from Pakistan is exported to the Middle East, Far East specially Japan and Singapore, the UK and USA in particular and other countries in general.

Fish exporters had showed a remarkable improvement in 1992-93, both in terms of quantity and value. That trend continued till the beginning of November 1993. But it reversed afterwards and in January 1994, 3.89 million kilograms were exported which fetched over $8 million at an average unit price of 2.06 per kilogram.

As against this, 4.94 million kilograms of fish were exported in December 1993 which earned $10.31 million at an average price of $ 2.09 per kilogram. The cause of the spread of cholera was attributed to water pollution and that water supply agencies were unable to monitor/control the Coliform count standards and also because a large number of people were consuming untreated water, mostly from surface water like stream, ponds or rivers. Similarly an item published in a daily newspaper of 5.12.91 stated that the import of Pakistan seafood by the United States suddenly came to a halt following when Food and Drug Administration (FDA) charged the Pakistani seafood processing industry with unhygienic conditions.

The General Secretary of Pakistan seafood processors and exporters group later told a press conference that earnings from exports of shrimps in Karachi had registered a decline of 33 million dollars.

Pakistan used to export about 100 million dollars worth of seafood to the United States annually, but only 10 per cent of the total exports could be exported to that country this year.

Pakistani exporters were as a result compelled to sell seafood to European and other markets at throw away prices. That helped exports maintain quantitative increase of 20 per cent and the revenue earnings consequently remained static at 200 million dollars. A few years back the following complaints were received from the Japanese market through our Commercial TABULAR DATA OMITTED Counsellor, Embassy of Pakistan, Tokyo:-

1) Packing and processing were not of international standards. 2) The product was emitting bad smell. 3) Grading was not uniform. 4) Short shipment was common.

It is unfortunate that no quality control is maintained while catching or exporting shrimps with the result that the country is losing lot of foreign exchange due to deterioration in quality of our seafood. High standards of quality are necessary if Pakistan fisheries products are to compete in highly competitive and sophisticated market of health-conscious countries like the USA, Japan and Canada. In USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for quality inspection of quality food. Among the factors that influence the quality of finished products freshness of the raw material is of paramount importance. The catch must be immediately cooled with sufficient quantity of ice and kept chilled from the time of catching till the time of canning and freezing. The trawlers which go for catching the shrimps, no matter for how short a period, must carry with them sufficient quantity of ice. …

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