'From boat to bowl' : an exploratory study of the implementation of the Hazard Analyis Critical Point (HACCP) system in tuna processing in the Solomon Islands : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Health Science in Environmental Health, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Wellington campus, New Zealand, May 2011
Fish and fish products are among the most internationally traded food commodities of which approximately fifty percent originate in developing countries. This raises concerns about seafood safety and quality for the food industry. The Solomon Islands currently export tuna loins to the European Union (EU), which requires accreditation. This lucrative market requires the Solomon Islands to meet stringent standards stipulated by the EU for fishery products.
The aim of the study was to explore and evaluate factors that influence the implementation of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety system at National Fisheries Developments Company Ltd (NFD Ltd) and Soltai Fishing & Processing Company Ltd (Soltai Ltd) in the Solomon Islands, and its effectiveness at meeting stringent EU requirements. A mixed methods research and design was adopted in the study, which involved non-experimental research, survey research and qualitative research (one on one (talanoa) interviews).
The study revealed that NFD Ltd and Soltai Ltd are in general terms in compliance with the EU directives (EC 852/2004, EC 853/2004 and EC 854/2004) and the Solomon Islands Pure Food (fishery products) Regulation 2005. Furthermore, while NFD Ltd and Soltai Ltd do have a well documented HACCP system in place, the study showed that the majority of workers do not fully understand the HACCP system. The review of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) on board the fishing vessels revealed that the Chief Engineers, as far as histamine control and monitoring is concerned, are complying with EU Regulation EC 853/2004 and the Solomon Islands Pure Food (fishery products) Regulation 2005.The tests carried out to assess microbiological parameters revealed that, a large number of microorganisms were present at all four sites in the processing factory as indicated by Total Plate Counts, a good indicator of product/surface contamination from environmental sources. Furthermore, survey research revealed that a high proportion (43%) of participants indicated they only adhere to the HACCP system “sometimes” and for some “never” in the factory - which poses significant food safety risk. The qualitative (talanoa) interviews showed that culture and low literacy level were major factors that impede the effective implementation of the HACCP system in the processing factory. The study further indicated that, to control food safety hazards (physical, chemical, and biological), the tuna industry needs a collaborative approach among those involved throughout the food processing chain, from the fishing vessels during harvesting, through to the processing factory and product shipment.
Training programmes, including pre-requisite programmes, designed to increase staff awareness of HACCP principles should be comprehensive and ongoing, to ensure sustained implementation of HACCP principles in the workplace. These should be an integral component of the companies‟ HACCP food safety policies and systems.