Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner

Fish Processing and Smoking Establishments
Interpretation and Enforcement Guidelines


Manufacturers of the following products are affected:

  1. Smoked Fish
  2. Pickled Fish
  3. Marinated Fish
    (except those which are merely flavored and which require cooking prior to consumption)
  4. Salted Fish
  5. Fermented Fish

Note: Includes seafood (i.e., shrimp, clams, mussels). Excludes Low Acid Canned Food (LACF) and Acidified Foods from regulation.

Manufacturers of the following products are not affected:

  1. Smoked Fish Salad
  2. Seafood Salad
  3. Herring in Cream Sauce
  4. Minced Herring
  5. Sushi Products

Note: Regulated firms are those that smoke, pickle, salt-cure, marinate or ferment fishery products.

Manufacturers will also need to comply with Rules and Regulations Relating to Human Foods (GMP's, Article 17).

Section 262.3 Raw Materials pertains to all processed fish manufacturers and addresses the following:

  1. Wholesomeness of raw material - free from adulteration and organoleptically detectable spoilage
  2. Temperature maintained at 38°>F or below
  3. Defrosting procedures (38°F preferred but not to exceed 45°F)
    1. Under refrigeration
    2. Continuous flowing water
    3. Microwave equipment
    4. Evisceration required except for:
      1. Small species of fish (i.e., anchovies, sprats)
      2. Fermented fish (17% wps)
      3. Cooked seafoods (i.e., smoked lobster)
    1. Segregation of evisceration procedure required. A clear physical separation rather than walls will be allowed.

Section 262.4 Operations and Controls for Processed Fishrequires that all processed fish be produced pursuant to a scheduled process established by a competent processing authority. The scheduled process includes processing methods, controls, labeling, and packaging. The controls for the process will include product safety criteria (i.e., temperature, wps, pH, water activity) and its recommended validation procedure (i.e., records, analysis). Vacuum Packaged/Modified Atmosphere Packaging (VP/MAP) smoked fish produced in accordance with Section 262.5 need not comply with this requirement. VP/MAP smoked fish which is not produced in accordance with Section 262.5 will need a scheduled process as required in this Section.

Note: The scheduled process shall be in writing and available for review by inspection personnel.

Process deviations - destruction of product or detention for further evaluation are options available to processors. They may choose to contact their processing authority to evaluate the deviation.

Temperature requirements for processed fish:

  1. 38°F
  2. 45°F if greater than 10% wps (multiple barrier for Botulinum A and B) or pH of 4.6 or below
  3. None if greater than 17% wps
  4. Thermometers required in refrigerated areas

VP/MAP processed fish have additional requirements in Section 262.4 as follows:

  1. VP/MAP only in facility where produced
  2. Product analysis (frequency determined by the scheduled process)

Note: Numerous scheduled processes received have recommended that products be analyzed on a quarterly basis.

Section 262.5 VP/MAP Smoked Fish

  1. Brining Procedures: (VP/MAP)
    1. Brine not to exceed 60°F at start
    2. Brining procedures greater than 4 hours to be conducted under refrigeration of 38°F
    3. Dry salting placed under 38°F refrigeration after the salting step
    4. Brines not to be reused
    5. Mixing of fish species in brines not allowed
  1. Smoking Procedures: (VP/MAP)
    1. Fish not overcrowded in smokehouse so as to promote absorption and exposure
    2. Generated smoke applied to fish during the first-half of process
    3. Liquid smoke may be added before or during process

    Hot Smoking

    1. Temperature probe of 3 or more fish with the coldest reading being recorded on process record
    2. Temperature recorded 3 times during heating
    3. Process record to include batch load temperature and date
    4. 145°F/30 minutes and 3.5% wps 145°F/30 minutes and 3.0% wps w/100-200 ppm nitrite

    Cold Smoking

    1. Smokehouse or chamber temperature monitored
    2. 90°F/20 hours and 3.5% wps
      90°F/20 hours and 3.0% wps w/100-200 ppm nitrite
      50°F/24 hours and 3.5% wps
      50°F/24 hours and 3.0% wps w/100-200 ppm nitrite

      Sablefish 120°F/6 hours and 3.5% wps
      Sablefish 120°F/6 hours and 3.0% wps w/100-200 ppm nitrite
  1. Cooling Procedures: (VP/MAP)

    50°F within 5 hours and 38°F within 12 hours

Exemptions from 262.4 (b ) (c) (d) and 262.5 include Finnan haddies, smoked cod fillets, and smoked scotch kippers. Packages must be clearly marked or labeled indicating they are to be cooked prior to consumption.

Section 262.7 Records

  1. Current requirements per Article 20-C:
    1. Production records - name of product, code, container size, number of containers
    2. Distribution records - names, addresses, codes
  1. Additional requirements per Section 262:
    1. Process time and temperature where appropriate
    2. Analysis results of VP/MAP processed fish or as outlined in a scheduled process
    3. Data and pertinent information relative to a scheduled process

Section 262.8 Packaging and Labeling of Processed Fish

  1. Finished product handled separate from unprocessed fish
  1. Labeling as follows:

    1. Frozen product labeled to indicate the product shall remain frozen until thawed at refrigerated temperatures and shall not be refrozen
    2. Refrigerated product shall state "Keep Refrigerated at 38°F or Below"
  1. Containers coded as per 20-C

Note: Containers of bulk shipped products (i.e., air packed smoked fish) may contain products from multiple production codes. Enforcement of coding is not practical in these cases. This would not apply to individual containers (i.e., jars, vacuum packages). Where air packed bulk products from multiple production codes are implicated in a recall, however, every suspect code will be affected.

Section 262.9 Sale of Processed Fish

  1. Out-of-state or imported products shall have been produced and labeled in accordance with these requirements or other applicable statutes or regulations. Acceptability of such products will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Special attention afforded VP/MAP products including those products packed in oil.
  1. Data available indicate the following multiple barriers as safe:
    1. Air Packed Smoked Fish -
      2.5% wps/38°
      (action level less than 2.0%)

    2. Pickled Fish/Marinated Fish -
      5.0% wps/45°F
      4.6 or below pH/45°F

    3. Fermented Fish -
      17% wps/shelf stable

    4. Salted Fish -
      10% wps/45°F (anaerobic)
      5.0% wps/45°F (aerobic)
      17.0% wps/shelf stable