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Sitka fish processor recalls two years’ worth of product

A Sitka seafood processor has recalled two-year’s worth of product, after a state inspection revealed that monitoring equipment had failed.


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The US Food and Drug Administration announced the recall by Big Blue Fisheries on September 30. It covers all vacuum-packed smoked fish produced by Big Blue — for the last two years.

Greg Johnstone, the Environmental Health Officer with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, inspected Big Blue on September 20 and discovered that a recording graph on Big Blue’s smoker was not working.

“On a commercial smoker there needs to be a chart recorder that records the internal temperature of the fish in the smoker on a continuous recording graph. And for smoked fish in Alaska — anywhere throughout the US — it needs to reach an internal temperature of 145-degrees for at least 30-minutes. And there has to be a continuous record of that. Big Blue’s recorder was broken, and they hadn’t been keeping records as required.”

Mike Keating, with Big Blue, says his company cooperated with the DEC and the FDA, which distributed the recall notice nationwide. Keating says he destroyed about $20,000-worth of product with the DEC standing by. He’s used his invoicing records to notify customers of the recall directly.

Keating stresses that no dangerous bacteria was discovered in any of his company’s product. And, given the two-year extent of the recall, it’s likely that much of the product is not around anyway.

Greg Johnstone, with the DEC says this is probably the case.

“The likelihood that they’ll recover much of the smoked product is pretty slight, because it probably will have been eaten.”

Mike Keating says he’ll replace or refund any product returned to him in Sitka. He says he’s already spoken with some customers who prefer to keep their fish, despite the recall. He thinks the DEC and the FDA have blown the issue out of proportion.

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