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Business

DA issues bulletin to ensure quality copra production

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (DA-BAFS) has released a technical bulletin aimed at ensuring the quality and safety of copra production in the country.

The technical bulletin also highlights the measures in copra production from harvesting to storage and transport, which will help prevent the occurrence of contamination.

Copra is produced by drying the fresh coconut meat.

According to the BAFS, the country exported 304,600 metric tons (MT) of copra oil cake in 2019 valued at $60.8 million.

“Despite this success, food safety and quality issues like aflatoxin contamination and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exposure plague copra production in the Philippines,” the BAFS said.

It added that copra contamination is caused by a variety of factors, including insufficient drying, improper handling, and poor storage conditions.

To address these problems, the TB recommended that all personnel involved in copra production should be regularly trained for proper personal hygienic and sanitary practices that must be implemented at all stages of production.

In terms of harvesting, the TB suggests harvesting only mature coconuts which are approximately 10 months old or when the husks start to change color from green to brown.

“Mature coconuts are easier to dry, and the resulting copra will be hard enough to avoid mold and insect infestation. An interval of 45 days between harvesting mature coconuts should be followed,” the TB said.

As for husking and splitting, the TB said this should be done in a clean and dry area or cemented floor while using clean tools, equipment, and materials to avoid microbial contamination.

“If splitting cannot be carried out immediately after husking, the husked coconuts should be covered with husks, leaves or fronds to prevent cracking due to direct sun exposure. Cracks or openings serve as entry points for insects and other organisms that can initiate meat spoilage,” it said.

Newly split coconuts should also be placed in a clean and dry pavement or in a relatively drier area using appropriate underlays to protect from direct contact with soil.

It also suggests that coconuts that show visible signs and symptoms of insect infestation or microbial contamination should be sorted out and discarded.

“Proper disposal of discarded coconuts is done by placing them in a compost pit away from the production, drying and storage areas,” it said.

The TB also issued suggestions on the drying process of copra through solar drying, direct smoke drying and hot air drying.

“Hot air dryers produce high quality grade copra. Hot air dryers prevent direct exposure of fresh coconut meat to fire since these utilize heat exchangers to transfer the heat energy from the firing chamber to the drying chamber. These dryers produce dried copra that is white, clean, and free of smoke, molds, and dirt,” the TB said.

The TB also gave suggestions on the packing/bagging, storing and transport of copra, as well as record keeping or documentation of the entire production process.

BUREAU OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES

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