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Good hygienic practices in the handling, manufacturing and transportation of fish and fish products, and adequate refrigeration throughout, can greatly reduce outbreaks of fish-borne illnesses. Measures that ensure high standards of quality and safety, by implication, will also reduce post-harvest losses.

The International Organization for Standardisation
, the worldwide federation of national standards bodies, defines 'quality' as "the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs" (ISO 8402). The quality of fish and fish products relies principally on safe, hygienically-produced products.

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP
)system of assuring food safety and quality has now gained worldwide recognition as the most cost-effective and reliable system available. It is based on the identification of risks, minimizing those risks through the design and layout of the physical environment in which high standards of hygiene can be assured, sets measurable standards and establishes monitoring systems. HACCP also establishes procedures for verifying that the system is working effectively.

HACCP is a sufficiently flexible system to be successfully applied at all critical stages -- from harvesting of fish to reaching the consumer. For such a system to work successfully, all stakeholders must cooperate which entails increasing the national capacity for introducing and maintaining HACCP measures. The system's control authority needs to design and implement the system, ensuring that monitoring and corrective measures are put in place.

The fishing industry must ensure that their fish handling, processing and transportation facilities meet requisite standards. Adequate training of both industry and control authority staff must be provided by support institutions, and channels for feedback from consumers established. Ensuring high standards for quality and safety is good economics, minimizing losses that result from spoilage, damage to trade and from illness among consumers.

 
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