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Thread: Fish cleaning stations: Clean?

  1. #1

    Default Fish cleaning stations: Clean?

    Most fish-cleaning stations appear pretty clean, with a hose and fresh water right there, fishermen spraying them off regularly.
    I have often wondered however, when I remember back to college microbiology, just how clean they are. Bacteria are not visible, and leave toxins that you cannot see either. I can remember being extremely careful with halibut, lots of rinsing, only to have the fish not smell that great later.

    Does anyone bring a container of bleach and soak the table before filleting? I am considering it, but wonder about whether some bleach is a problem environmentally, or legally since the stations are typically right next to the water.

    Does anyone use bleach or some other sanitizer or soap before using a fillet table?
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  2. #2
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    its probably just as clean as the river, isn't that why we cook fish? I imagine bleach into river = not so good
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  3. #3

    Thumbs down

    Please do not bring bleach to the cleaning tables, save that for your cutting board at home, rather take along a little scrub brush and use the water you are standing by. If you still think it is a good idea call ahead of time to the overlooking authority of that area and see what their reaction is.
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    It wouldn't matter to me. All I do at a cleaning station is gut, head, and tail. I don't fillet them until I'm home and ready to vacuum pack or can.

  5. #5

    Default No bleach please

    I'll suggest that bleach & fresh fish is not a good combination in any amount. Rinsing with water is more than enough to prep your fish.

  6. #6
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    I usually filet my fish and the filet never comes into contact with the cleaning table. I also wash them well at home before I crank up the Foodsaver and put 'em in the freezer. Haven't died from food poisoning yet!

  7. #7

    Default cleaning the table

    Realize I'm not talking about the fresh fish that I have caught. I'm talking about bacteria on the board from fish parts, slime, ect. laying in the sun all day. Say that bacteria is on the board. Water alone won't get it off, and increased numbers result in toxins. When you lay your fillet on the table without skin on it any bacteria is in that fish and it's not coming out.
    Last year I started bringing an extra piece of plywood to fillet on and threw it away afterwards rather than use the fish tables. (I'll take a sliver over bacteria). Maybe I'm paranoid or over-educated, I don't know.

    Pour bleach on the board, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it off. That's how I would clean my fish board at home anyway. I wouldn't dare walk up to a public fish-cleaning station with a gallon of bleach, there could be a fight and I might end up swinging a ling cod for self defense.

    Does anyone use anything besides spraying water to clean the table? Does anyone else wonder about this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug from Anchorage View Post
    I'll suggest that bleach & fresh fish is not a good combination in any amount. Rinsing with water is more than enough to prep your fish.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

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    I've read that the typical temperatures in Alaska are too low for most bacteriall growth. The medium is also important....studies have shown that wood and metal are very poor places to grow bacteria.....the plastic cutting boards used by many folks are a lot more friendly to bacteria. Maybe someone who has a scientific background could expand on this. As I said in my earlier post I haven't had a problem yet and I use a couple of different public cleaning tables. Several of my friends wash down their cleaning tables with bleach when they have finished cleaning a bunch of fish.....they do a lot of Halibut as well as salmon.

  9. #9

    Default Food Standards

    I suppose a good information source of information would be a food, fish plant, or restaurant inspector. Maybe there are some fish processing workers out there: how often was it required to clean the boards and with what?
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  10. #10

    Default How about a little Vinegar???

    Wilddog may have a valid concern.
    http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/cutting_board.htm

    However a little vinegar may do the trick and still be environmentaly freindly.
    www.care2.com/channels/solutions/home/164 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/q...&dopt=Abstract

    OP1

  11. #11
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    I do believe that Bleach when intoduced to water will react with it and consume the dissolved Oxygen in the water. I could be wrong but I recall hearing that.

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    Lightbulb

    I worked in the meat business for 10 years. The bacteria crazes in the media has gotten everybody worked-up in a lather. If I were going to cook the fish, I wouldn't worry. Sushi is supposed to be frozen like squaw candy at ten or twenty below for X number of hours. Cevechi is basically cooked in the lime juice's acid. The South Americans didn't have refrigeration or bleach to clean up with. Worse comes to worse and this is some phobia why not clean them at home? Don't throw the ply wood away every time. Cut your cleaning board to size now, and keep putting cooking oil or it to make it water resistant. It will be ready for summer. After using it, spray it off with water, then sprinkle alot of salt on it. The salt will cur it like a virginia ham, and suck all of the water out of it. Personally I would be more concerned with a public toilet at the landing.

  13. #13
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    it used to just KILL me to see the abuse a fish received after being beached and bludgeoned at the numerous popular fishing holes in Southcentral. To be left to rot in the sunshine, to be left on a stringer in a pool of fetid water (to rot), and to be left in the hands of a drunk hillbilly who decided to clean and filet with a leatherman (then drag and rinse through same fetid water) The solution for me, I quit fishing at popular fishing holes. I agree with Mr. Pid. Bleed the fish immediately while the heart is still pumping. Head, gut, and get into a cooler of ice or a wet burlap bag and stick it in the shade. Filet the fish when you get home. Wet burlap is like a cooler, evaporation is a cooling process and is a really dandy way to preserve your fish. Cheap too!

  14. #14

    Default toxins

    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    its probably just as clean as the river, isn't that why we cook fish? I imagine bleach into river = not so good
    Cooking kills bacteria, true. Not toxins though.
    Toxins are released from bacteria, and are what cause the symptoms like stomach ache and headache. You can cook something for hours but the toxins will still be there.

    I am only bringing this up because it has happened to me and I am extremely careful. I think it's a worthwhile discussion, and maybe worth taking some samples from various tables around the state. I don't think it's going to cause epidemic or anything like that, but some precautions may ensure a higher quality of meat.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

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    Default wildog...

    Having been raised on Alaskan fish and game, perhaps you could identity the toxins you refer to.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildog View Post
    Cooking kills bacteria, true. Not toxins though.
    Toxins are released from bacteria, and are what cause the symptoms like stomach ache and headache. You can cook something for hours but the toxins will still be there.
    You are absolutely correct. Many bacterial toxins are in fact heat-stable... you kill the bacteria with cooking, but the toxins persist. If ingested, they can make you VERY sick.

    Let your nose be your guide. Putrid odors smell that way to you because that's an evolutionary mechanism to avoid ingesting the foul-smelling stuff that's laced with bacteria and toxins.

    The same exact "stuff" can smell like heaven to a fly... the source of the odor usually makes a great place to lay eggs as there will be a ready food supply available when the maggots hatch.

    I don't care how much you spray it down, a stinky cleaning table is a sure sign that it's loaded with germs. Watch out for stations lined with carpet, or plain porous wood. An UHMW plastic surface is better, and a solid surface countertop is even better yet... less nooks/crannies for germs to cling to. It's especially bad at the busier cleaning stations because they never get to dry out or air out... and they can go for days without a thorough cleaning. Somebody is ALWAYS unloading a fresh batch of fish to feed the bacterial populations that have already colonized the station.

    No thanks! I fillet fish over my own ice chest while camping, or wait til I get home to deal with it.

    In the meantime, a good rinse in the river will suffice after bleeding/gutting the fish. The skin and peritoneum (membranous lining in the body cavity) acts as a barrier to protect the meat from most of the bacterial load in the water.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Default ADF&G should read this post

    Talked with the local sport fish biologist and 24 cleaning tables with grinders are planned for the Russian River - 5 to go in this year as a test. This is suppose to reduce the bear problem - I doubt it but we will see.

    I wonder how long it takes to grind 50,000 sockeye salmon from the harvest?

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    Yah, that will work! LOL

  19. #19
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    Yep, a good bleeding in the stream and a quick gutting, ice 'em really good and take 'em home to fillet. Can't get much cleaner than that.

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    Default Bleach and Salmon

    Speaking of bleach and fish, I just wanted to mention that I have traveled in some areas where the locals fish with bleach by pouring a cup or two of grocery store bleach into the stream. Soon as the salmon get a sniff of the bleach, they turn tail downstream into the waiting gillnets. Itís been my observation with this practice, that the bleach turns the salmon a little darker than normal. Canít verify it, but I have overheard buyers make comments to that effect. Itís been awhile since I have seen this type of fishing done, but Iím sure it still happens.

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