The purpose of this paper is to assess hygiene practices during fish selling in retail stores.
The data were collected by observations during inspections carried out in 100 randomly selected food retail stores, both independent and chain, selling fresh fish, fish products and other seafood. Stores were located in and around the area of Warsaw, Poland. The inspection check list consisted of 43 questions based on rigorist requirements of Commission Regulation (EC) 852, 853 and Codex Alimentarius. The question form was divided into three hygiene sectors: hygiene conditions of seafood departments; hygiene of fish selling process; personal hygiene of employees. Inspections were unannounced, and were conducted by discreet visual observations of employees work routine and selling procedures.
The level of hygiene compliances with inspection criteria was unexpectedly low. The highest percentage of compliance appeared in the hygiene of fish selling processes (in 44 percent of the stores compliance with evaluated criteria was found), less one compliance levels appeared in personal hygiene (18 percent) and hygiene of seafood department’s hygiene conditions (23 percent). Neither the size of the store, nor its location and type (independent and local or global chain) affected the compliance rate.
The main research limitation is that assessment was done only by observation method. This is one of audit/inspection methods according to ISO 19011/2011, guidelines for auditing management systems. However, this kind of inspection cannot assess microbiological cleanliness or other like ATP or symptoms of diseases expect of only visible signs. The used inspection check list needs more testing and more analyses should be done for its reliability and validity.
Adequate hygiene practices are critical in preventing cross-contamination. However, none of the inspected stores ensured full implementation of all hygiene requirements during the sale of fish. The results indicated that a greater effort should be made to increase hygiene level both in small and large size retail stores. The designed inspection questionnaire proved to be a successful format for detailed evaluation of hygiene practices during the sale of fish. However, more work and analyses should be done for its reliability and validity.
The findings bring some information for the consumers that in many retail stores the hygiene level during the fish sales might be insufficient.
The paper presents additional and detailed data on hygiene practices during fish selling, which are rarely pointed out by other authors. The applied evaluation method showed a low level of compliance with the rigorous hygienic criteria, adopted in this study, that may raise some food safety concerns.
Trafialek, J., Zwolinski, M. and Kolanowski, W. (2016), "Assessing hygiene practices during fish selling in retail stores", British Food Journal, Vol. 118 No. 8, pp. 2053-2067. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-12-2015-0477Download as .RIS
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