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Typical ISA signs in Atlantic salmon (Photo: Merk Animal Health)

Cooke Aquaculture authorized to process ISA infected salmon

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 07:10 (GMT + 9)

New Brunswick (NB)-based Cooke Aquaculture is assuring consumers that its fish that became ill with infectious salmon anemia (ISA) is safe to eat.

The company has started moving about 240,000 fish from a quarantined Nova Scotia farm off Coffin Island to a factory for processing in Blacks Harbour, NB. The process will take about a month.

Cooke has thus become the first company to process its fish even if ill with ISA, thanks to new protocols established by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), told company spokesperson Nell Halse.

The CFIA claims that the virus does not pose a risk to human health and therefore that Cooke’s sick fish are safe to eat, The Canadian Press reports.

“They’re perfectly safe to eat,” said Halse. “In this case we’ve got fish that are market size. There’s nothing wrong with them from a human health perspective.”

“It’s really only an issue for fish health. It’s nothing to do with human health,” she clarified.

CFIA officials have visited both of the company’s sites over the past six months while developing suitable guidelines for the processing of fish infected with ISA, Halse told.

The new protocols include disinfecting the fish plant where the ill fish were being held and setting steps for managing the waste water in the tanker trucks that transport the sick fish.

In addition, Halse noted, everyone involved in the process has gone through strict training on how to handle the fish to prevent the virus from spreading to healthy fish at the farm or to their wild counterparts.

In early 2012, an outbreak of ISA led Cooke to kill hundreds of thousands of salmon because they were only halfway through production and too small to be sold.

What happened this time is that a different strain of the virus was detected at its Coffin Island farm in June, which allowed Cooke to quarantine the site so the salmon could be grown to full market size and sold to consumers.

Halse added that if CFIA does not order the fish to be killed, the company must process and market the fish, CBC News reports.

Related articles:

- CFIA quarantines fish farm in Newfoundland due to suspected ISA 
- Govt orders Cooke Aquaculture to destroy remaining fish 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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