The Making of Mega Sardines: From Catching to Canning
“The Mega Group of Companies is a fast-moving consumer goods company that manufactures one of the Philippines’ top sardines brands, Mega Sardines.”- this is according to their website page.
Mega Group has their own ship vessel. The operation starts by exploring the sea and looking for school of fish. This is using fish radar which serves as fish finder and side scanning sonar. The ship vessel uses the greenlight for the green color doesn’t spook the fishes. As the fish net is lowered making a circle around the school of fish, lots of jumping fishes are harvested from it. Catcher uses a new technology called “Fish Pump” that enables them to directly transfer the fishes from the vessel to a container. It would likely to extend the shelf life of fish. After that, the fish carrier departs from the fishing ground and deliver the fish directly to the canning plant where the journey of a long way process of this mega sardines canned product all began.
To separate the fish and the crushed ice the fish bin is tilted in an automatic machine. Then, the fishes will be submerged and soaked in a brine tank to remove scales. It now moves on a rotating fish water machine to further wash the fish. As the machine began to move, the conveyor is utilized for size sorting. The workers categorize the fishes according to sizes: small, medium or large sizes. The pre-sorted fish are then placed in a conveyor belt where a nabbing machine automatically cuts the fishes’ head and tail.
The cans are sterilized for about 85 degrees centigrade. After that, the workers then filled the cans with sardines for about 4 fishes inside it. The process goes on and it will then pass on exhaust box for pre-cooking at 85 degrees centigrade for about 12 minutes. This cans will move on magnetic decanter for removing of water/ moisture. Next, the cans would pass on the sauce filling tank where tomato sauce and pre-mixed ingredients are being poured into the cans. The process in sealing the cans have a maximum rate of 300 cans per minute per line. It would now proceed in a busie basket and pushed inside the retort for sterilization with a temperature of 117 degrees centigrade.
After sterilizing, the cans are moved into a cooling area for 120 minutes. The cooled cans are loaded onto another machine for ink jet printing of the batch production coding system. The cans would then pass on the labeler which functions for automatic labelling. As the process ends, the finished products are then packed in boxes with the use of automatic packing machine that has a maximum rate of 15 cases per minute. Finally, the box are sealed and stored in warehouses ready for shipping and delivery.
From the start of the process through its exploration across the sea, I am amazed by how the Mega Group of sardines used new techniques in their vessel namely the” fish pump”. The fish handling tool like this ensures the shelf-life of the fish in order for it to be protected by directly putting it in a carrier simultaneously.
I commend the safety measures inside the factory. With their suits, gloves, boots and all, they exhibit a well-grounded place for product control processing. I have seen a lot of equipped machines who functions quickly while having an assurance for the temperature control system. As the technological methods advances, it is much easier to conduct factorial preparation for food resources especially canned goods.
I have seen the organized handling methods by the factory workers by keeping and transporting live fish and use of ice to avoid spoilage to ensure freshness. Their fast growing fishing operation has further assured the quality of their products in each step of the process.
In a Fish Product Factory, the industrial standards for performance and innovation should be high, and must be reflected in its products and services for community health safety and advantages. Thus, this is a form of new modern techniques which we Filipinos are aiming for.
In the years to come, my expectations are high in the availability of fresh resources of fishes not just for the canned goods but also for other types of fish products. Canning is just one of the post-harvest techniques that is rampant here in our country. We should be proud of producing this kind of systematic environment for well-equipped fish processing grounds. This will also provide jobs for a lot of Filipinos.
-by: Almie Jane Catulay, BS in ChE, UPV