In its notification dated 11 January 2016 the FSSAI has amended the standards for salted fish/dried salted fish after having gone through the suggestions, comments and objections on the earlier proposed standards. These new regulations will be called Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2016. The amendments to the standards of salted fish/dried salted fish were notified in the Official Gazette on 7th July, 2015 and have been carried out in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) regulation, 2011. Since the amended standards have now been adopted, all FBOs dealing with salted fish/dried salted fish will need to follow the new regulations with immediate effect.
The amendment to standards has been made to the sub-regulation ‘salted fish/dried salted fish’ under the regulation dealing with Fish and Fish Products. While the standards remains largely the same the change has been made to the process used in salted fish/dried salted fish.
- While earlier dried fish were required to be heavily salted this is no longer the requirement now as the new standards say that the various fish can now be dried with or without the addition of salt.
- Fish can be dried only if they are wholesome and have been bled, gutted, beheaded, split or filleted and washed before carrying out any salting and drying process.
- The salt used in salted dried fish must be clean, free from foreign matter, show no visible signs of contamination with dirt, oil, bilge or other extraneous materials.
- All fish products prepared in this way must be free from foreign matter, objectionable odour and flavour.
- These products may contain food additives that are permitted in Appendix A of the regulations
- All products must comply with the microbiological and chemical requirement as laid down in the regulation.
The Products shall conform to the following requirements:
With the amendment of standards for salted fish/dried salted fish the FBOs are now eagerly awaiting the standards for microbiological parameters for Fish and Fish Products. FSSAI has also proposed certain microbiological criteria, which will be the basis for checking the safety and hygienic standards of fish products. According to the criteria for microbiological standards the fish products will be termed unsatisfactory, satisfactory or potentially hazardous.
About dried, salted fish
Fresh fish can deteriorate very rapidly unless it has been preserved. Drying is one of the oldest methods of preserving fish. Drying preserves fish by removing water from it as that inhibits the growth of microorganisms. The earliest methods used for drying fish were the open air method, using the sun and wind to dry the fish. Air drying, sun drying or wind drying is used because water evaporates and the fish are fully preserved. Without water bacteria, yeasts and moulds can no longer survive and so dried fish has a storage life of several years. This method is the cheapest and most effective and is used extensively in India as the climate is suitable. However, these days even freeze-drying is also used, where food is first frozen and then the water is removed by sublimation.
Similarly salt is added to fish for preserving it as it helps to remove the water from the fish and to prevent the growth of bacteria as salt is a preservative. Salting is usually carried out before drying.