An operation at Annandale, East Coast Demerara, led to the discovery of a large quantity of contaminated fish, forcing local officials to shut down the plant until it can satisfy health conditions.
Inspectors from the Veterinary Public Health of the Ministry of Public Health and officers of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) conducted a search on Tuesday at the International Seafood Enterprise at ‘Pump Road’, Annandale.
During the operation, officials unsealed several boxes of fish which did not meet safety standards. The fish, which is said to be valued in the millions of dollars, are to be destroyed.
On site, Kaieteur News observed inspectors uncovering a large quantity of smoked and frozen fish that included Cuirass, Banga Mary and Basha.
Veterinary Public Health Director, Dr. Ozaye Dodson, said that a full inspection of the plant was undertaken after inspectors examined fish products which were not wholesome. During the inspection, the agency looked at the water quality, waste disposal and certification for staff.
He explained that the inspectors recognized that there was a serious breach in terms of documentation for time temperature controls.
According to Dr. Dodson, as the competent authority on fish exports, a pre-shipment verification was ordered for the products at the plant and the results were poor.
“There are critical deficiencies in terms of the plant which is a major deviation from the planned requirements which are needed to maintain the wholesomeness and safety of the product. We found a lot of regularities. We have the responsibility to do what is necessary to ensure the export wholesome and quality products,” Dr. Dodson told Kaieteur News.
Guyana has stepped up surveillance and inspection of local fish products since the United States (U.S) banned the import of the catfish species, citing inadequate regulations and safety control mechanisms. Guyana is in the process of implementing the necessary changes to resume catfish exportation to the U.S.
“One of the things that we are trying to do right now is to intensify the way in which we deal with the industry in terms of our inspectorate services and certification of products for export markets,” Dr. Dodson explained.
He said the agency wants to work with the various plants to ensure that they are able to meet requirements.
“The seafood industry provides a lot of economic benefits for the person directly employed in the industry and the wider economy. We have a responsibility as the competent authority to ensure that what comes out from the establishments guarantee protection and it guarantees that the product is wholesome.
“We will have to move in this direction because for us failure on one end has caused a country to be banned,” Dr. Dodson noted.
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