The effect of smoking kilns on water activity, microbial load and sensory attributes was evaluated to adopt suitable technology that maintains the quality of fish in South Sudan. A total of 300 fresh Mormyrus caschive and Oreochromis niloticus were purchased, 36 fresh samples were iced and the remaining 264 fish samples were divided into two batches for pit and chorkor smoking. The experiment was done twice in a completely randomized design. Fish samples were analyzed for water activity using Lab-Swift Meter, microbial load using standard microbiological methods and sensory characteristics using 9-point hedonic grading scale. Result revealed that, water activity in pit smoked fish increased at a rate of 1.7 times faster than in chorkor smoked samples during storage. Corresponding to water activity, plate count equally increased at a rate of 1.7 times faster for pit smoked M. caschive and 1.1 times for O. niloticus than samples smoked using chorkor. Similarly, mould load increased at a rate of 1.5 times faster for pit smoked M. caschive and 2.2 times for O. niloticus than samples smoked using chorkor oven. Overall, chorkor smoked fish had significantly better sensory parameters than pit smoked samples after one month’s storage. Therefore, chorkor kiln produced quality smoked fish in terms of microbial load and organoleptic parameters, and the study recommends its adoption for artisan fisheries in South Sudan. However, microbial characteristics of smoked fish need to be further examined for a period exceeding a month to determine microbiological quality and establish fish self-life in order to maintain the quality and safety of fish and fisheries products.
Key words: Water activity, microbial load, sensory attributes, smoking technologies, shelf life.
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