Inspecting the fresh fish market

| 19/11/2017

Is there any regulation or monitoring of the fish vendors downtown? While the fish always looks fresh, my concern is how long it might go unrefrigerated. Hoping for some reassurance that it is safe to frequent these stalls. Is there any truth to the rumour that these fish are brought in from other countries and not caught in Cayman waters?

Auntie’s answer: The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) is responsible for keeping tabs on food vendors, in this case those selling fish at the outdoor market along the waterfront in George Town. A DEH official confirmed that the department’s food safety officers routinely monitor that market.

Part of the general inspection process, according to the DEH website, is to ensure that food premises follow the department’s food safety guidelines and what is sold is safe for consumers. In addition, the DEH requires that all food handlers “receive supervision, instruction and, where necessary, training in food hygiene upon commencement of their work duties”.

Specifically for fish, the DEH official said that fresh fish should be stored at temperatures below 5º Celsius (41º Fahrenheit). That means for the outdoor market, fish should be kept on ice until purchased to prevent the growth of bacteria.

The DEH representative also cautioned that the “onus is, however, on the consumer to ensure that he/she inspects the fish before purchase”. To help with that inspection, the DEH explained, “Clear, bulging eyes, a firm body and absence of a strong odour are usually some signs that fish is fresh.”

As for the second part of your question, I hope very strongly that all fish advertised as being caught in Cayman waters are just that. Unless you plan to confirm that yourself by hitching a ride on one of our fishing boats or staking out the shore when the boats return from fishing, I guess you need to have a little faith that you are buying fish from Cayman.

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Go to the supermarket or catch it yourself if youre so concerned!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow – I guess Auntie’s comment should not be “have a little faith”, but rather, “buyer beware”

  3. Anonymous says:

    As many posters have already said, many of the fish come from Honduran fishing boats. That fact alone means the vendors are supposed to be licensed under the trade and business licensing law, but I doubt any are. Only local Caymanian fishermen selling their catch are exempt from licensing. The descent to lawlessness continues, seemingly on every beach!

  4. Anonymous says:

    All the vendors at the market will tell you where the fish came from and it ain’t here, it’s no secret. Where do you think all the supermarkets get there fish from the same boat.
    You will also see many of the restaurants buying there fish from the market. In the mornings you see the boards being washed down and likewise in the evening.
    Been going to the market for years with no problem, everyone harps on about supporting local employment well at the market you are…..

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve also had them tell me that the snapper was from Honduras.

  6. anonymous says:

    Yes, they do sell fish that is caught in other countries as I have purchased red snapper of the type not found around our reefs. It is still of better quality and fresher that what is purchased from the supermarkets. If you don’t know how to tell if fish is fresh then stay away from there, but if you know your fish then it is a good deal, particularly with the deep-water fish not found in the supermarkets.

  7. Anonymous says:

    One of the vendors last year came flat out and told my boyfriend that the fish he was buying was brought in frozen from Honduras, needless to say the vendor lost the sale so who knows what they say these days as we haven’t been back.

    • anonymous says:

      Just a minor point, it is kept on ice for days, maybe even weeks, but not “frozen”.

  8. JGY says:

    Some of the fish sold there are bought from Central American fishing boats and I’d venture to say it’s happening more & more. I once experience buying fish from there that had already started to spoil, the Caymanian fisherman agreed and apologize when I returned the fish and compensated me with fresh fish few days after. He also told me it was bought from a Honduran boat.

    • Anonymous says:

      How would they pay the duty on this fish brought into Cayman by boat from Honduras? I presume they have to declare this to be fair to compete with the supermarkets.