Botulism Prevention

April 20, 2011

To: Valued Customers

Re: Good Manufacturing Practices for vacuum packaged products

Please note the potential hazards in distributing & thawing of oxygen reduced or oxygen removed packaged products which include:

  • vacuum packaging or modified or controlled atmosphere packaging,
  • Packaging in hermetically sealed containers (double seamed cans, glass jars with sealed lids)

Vacuum packaging or modified or controlled atmosphere packaging inhibits the growth of spoilage bacteria while increasing the shelf life of the product. The safety concern is if these products are not properly handled or thawed it will increase the potential for the formation of botulinum toxin before spoilage which is hazardous to consumers. This type of toxin starts to form in oxygen reduced or oxygen removed packaging as the temperature of the product rises to 380F or higher. C. botulinum toxin forms more rapidly at higher temperatures.


Thawing properly at the right temperature (400F or below) will eliminate the hazards of botulinum toxins and will also prevent the formation of other hazards such as histamine.

Unless kept continuously frozen at temperatures at or below 38ºF (3.3ºC), FDA is unaware of appropriate controls to prevent formation of C. botulinum in vacuum packed or oxygen reduced packaged products. Oxygen-permeable packaging for fishery products must also be kept at proper temperatures even though this type of packaging has been known to reduce but not eliminate the formation of botulinum toxins.

When FDA showed concern that after distribution vacuum-packed fish (fresh/frozen) may not be handled or thawed properly, they mandated in 2001 that all vacuum-packed products contain the following label declaration or something similar: “IMPORTANT, KEEP FROZEN UNTIL USED, THAW UNDER REFRIGERATION IMMEDIATELY BEFORE USE.”

Here are the suggested thawing/handling instructions for our frozen vacuum packed seafood products:

  • Storing: all frozen products must be stored at freezing temperatures (below 320F or below) in an airtight vacuum sealed bag
  • Thawing:
    1. Preferred method: thaw slowly by removing the product completely from package and store under refrigeration (400F or below) overnight.
    2. Alternate method: thaw quickly by placing vacuum sealed bag in a mixture of water, ice, and salt for approximately one (1) hour then immediately remove product from vacuum bag, pat dry with clean paper towel, and use.
  • Foodservice handling: once thawed, products should be kept at a proper handling temperature not to exceed 400F. The primary reason for seafood spoilage is time and temperature abuse.
  • Recommended shelf life: to maintain proper quality, product should be sold or consumed within three (3) days after thawing. Do not refreeze previously frozen or thawed products.


  • Never thaw at room temperature
  • Never thaw in a sealed bag
  • Do not thaw by running under tap water

Please contact us immediately if the are any questions regarding this information.

Best Regards,
Sabrina Vaughn
HACCP Coordinator

Radiation Update

May 5, 2011

The Hawaii Seafood Council has put out a notice advising the industry and consumer that the seafood in the North Pacific Ocean is safe from radiation. Please click here to read the report.



Hawaii fisheries are sustainable. The fishing sector works with scientists and managers to reduce impacts and risk to protected species and to prevent fish populations from becoming overfished.

  • Fish are hook and line-caught
  • No gill nets trawl nets or seine nets used
  • Practices sustainable fishery management
  • Pioneers mitigation to reduce environment impacts
  • Traces seafood products to vessels that are accountable to government regulations and intensive monitoring by fishery observers.

Hawaii longline fishery for tuna and swordfish produces sustainable seafood. The fishery meets national and international requirements for the following.

  • Science based, precautionary fishery management
  • Performance in managing fish populations for sustainability and
  • Controlling fishery impacts on the ecosystem

Hawaii fishery management system is exemplary.

  • Operates under a model fishery management system
  • Every aspect strictly regulated, closely monitored and tightly enforced
  • It is a model for sustainable pelagic fisheries worldwide
  • System based on sound science and a transparent and inclusive fishery management process committed to sustainability

Hawaii longline fishery has a track record of precautionary conservation measures from being the first pelagic fishery in the Untied States to require daily logbook reporting in 1991, to banning shark finning and establishing the most extensive government fishery observer program in 2004.

Some key elements of the Hawaii fishery management system include the following.

  • Management system can adapt to new information and/or changes in fish population status or environmental conditions through timely corrective actions
  • Fishing capacity is capped under the Hawaii longline vessel limited entry system
  • Strong science and research base

Overfishing is being avoided. None of the pelagic fish population is overfished.

  • Hawaii fishery is active to eliminate overfishing on bigeye tuna
  • Ecosystem impacts are constantly being assessed and managers, scientists and the fishing sector are working on solutions
  • Sustainable and verifiable reductions of protected species interactions and finfish bycatch have been achieved.

Greater detail on the basis of the Sustainability Statement can be found in the Hawaii Seafood Sustainability Platform at

Bottomfish “Deep 7” Ban in Main Hawaiian Islands
Effective Until September 1, 2011

In order to prevent unsustainable fishing, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council commonly known as WesPac, implemented a reduction in the annual catch limit for the 2011-2012 season on June 17, 2011. The ban will be effective to September 1, 2011 and covers various bottomfish including seven species of snappers and groupers – onaga (longtailed red snapper), ehu (red snapper), gindai (snapper), kalekale (snapper), opakapaka (pink snapper), lehi (silver jaw jobfish) and hapu’upu’u (sea bass) which are collectively know as the “Deep 7” and caught within 200 miles off the Hawaiian shoreline or Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI).

The Council has decreased the total allowable catch (TAC) of 346,000 pounds to 325,000 pounds, a reduction of 6%.

This ban affects everyone who is fishing and selling the Deep 7 bottomfish in both state and federal waters. The TAC is specified by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the final ruling is made by the WPRFMC.

The Council also addressed several protected species issues. It expressed concern over moving monk seal pups, placing Hawaii's false killer whales on the endangered species list, and removing honu from the threatened list.

They also addressed federal fishery management issues for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Military training in the area has an impact on the fishing communities there, and the Council wants to work to lessen the effects.

Eat Healthy.. Eat Fish

Two servings of fish per week can help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, a fatty acid that our body cannot produce on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish, but are especially high in fatty fish. Good fish choices for Omega-3’s include salmon, tuna (can light), trout, sardines, sea bass, oysters, crab, shrimp, and cod.

Numerous studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • decrease heart disease
  • reduce blood pressure
  • help prevent arthritis
  • help prevent abnormal heart rhythms promote healthy brain function

People who eat at least one meal of fish per week will be significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who never eat fish. Fish is low-fat and is a good quality protein, filled with vitamins like riboflavin (Vitamin B2), which aids the body in the metabolism of amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates and Vitamin D, which aids calcium absorption to help prevent osteoporosis. Fish is also rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, potassium (a mineral needed for muscles, nerves, and fluid balance in the body), iodine, and magnesium. When people substitute meat for fish, they decrease their intake of these essential vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is a good choice for people with diabetes. 

The high protein supply aids in the regulation of blood sugar.

Remember, eating fish is healthy!

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Botulism Prevention

Please note the potential hazards in distributing & thawing of oxygen reduced or oxygen removed packaged products which include:

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