Guideline – Assessment of par-cooking for breaded, battered and crumbed (BBC) prawns

Scope

The department has implemented new import conditions for breaded, battered and crumbed (BBC) prawns. Further information is available in Biosecurity Advice Notice 2018-15 and Import Industry Advice Notice 80/2018.

All BBC prawns imported from 28 September 2018 must be certified by the competent authority as having undergone a par-cooking step after the prawns have been coated to solidify and adhere the coating to the prawn. Only product that is deemed sufficiently par-cooked can be imported without testing for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and yellow head virus – genotype 1 (YHV1).

  • This process is intended to minimise the opportunity for removal of the BBC product coating post border for on-sale as peeled and head off raw prawns.
  • The coating of par-cooked product should appear at least slightly browned and solid, with the coating naturally adhering to the prawn.
  • The coating and appearance of the prawn meat during inspection should appear the same as submitted in the original permit assessment documentation.
  • Prawn tails (where present) should have a pinkish appearance resulting from the heat applied during the par-cooking process.
  • Par-cooking of raw prawn meat and then application of the coating without any further processing will not be accepted.

This guideline is applicable to importers, trading partners and other stakeholders seeking guidance for acceptable par-cooking processes for BBC prawns.

Important: This document is guidance only and each BBC product will undergo a thorough assessment by the department as part of the import permit application process to determine if a product is sufficiently par-cooked. Product that is deemed not to be sufficiently par-cooked may only be imported if its meets the import conditions for uncooked peeled prawns outlined within Biosecurity Advice 2017-12. For more information, please refer to our uncooked prawns webpage.

The department will continue to update this document as new par-cooking methods are identified.

Par-cooking – Import Permit Application Assessment

The department will undertake a detailed assessment of each par-cooked BBC product during the import permit application assessment process. The information must allow the department to establish the following:

  • That the manufacturing process is capable of consistently delivering a product that has undergone a par-cooking step (such as pre-frying or baking);
  • The par-cooking step is conducted after the prawns have undergone the breaded, battered, or crumbing manufacturing step; and
  • The heating time and temperature applied during the par-cooking process.

Information required to support import permit applications for BBC prawns

The department requires a detailed description of the manufacturing process of every BBC prawn product proposed for import. This information could be provided in the form of a processing flow chart or similar document describing the product’s manufacturing steps.

The ‘prawns for human consumption questionnaire’ (currently under development) contains all information required to support an import permit application for par-cooked BBC prawns. While the questionnaire is not mandatory, it enables a quick and efficient assessment of import permit applications. The questionnaire is also available through BICON, and should be submitted with your import permit application.

Examples of par-cooking times and temperatures that may be acceptable

The department will consider a suitable range of par-cooking methods, including pre-frying and baking. The tables below can be used as guidance for specific par-cooking methods. Applicants must be aware that these are examples only and the department will conduct individual assessments on a product by product basis.

Pre-frying
Prawn size

Pre-fry oil temperature (oC)

Pre-frying time (seconds)

10/15

170 - 175

65 ± 2

16/20

170 - 175

60 ± 2

21/25

170 - 175

55 ± 2

26/30

170 - 175

52 ± 2

31/40

170 - 175

50 ± 2

41/50

170 - 175

40 ± 2

51/60

170 - 175

30 ± 2

Questions and Answers

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What if I do not want to include a par-cooking step for my BBC prawns, or the department finds my product does not meet the BBC import conditions?

If your product does not undergo an acceptable par-cooking process, or if you request to import BBC product that is not par-cooked, the department will apply the uncooked prawn conditions to your import permit. Uncooked prawn conditions are outlined within Biosecurity Advice 2017-12.

How will par-cooking be assessed during the import permit application assessment process?

The outcome the department is seeking is that the par-cooking process solidifies and adheres the coating to the prawn. This process is intended to prevent the easy removal of the coating post-border, and therefore minimise the likelihood that BBC prawns could be on-sold as raw uncooked prawns. Par-cooking of raw prawn meat or subsequent application of a coating that has not been par-cooked will not be accepted.

The department will seek photos of the product packaging and prawns in their frozen and thawed state. We will also ask for photos of finished product with the coating peeled off. The coating of par cooked product should appear at least slightly browned, the prawn meat and tails (where present) should have a pinkish appearance resulting from the heat applied during the par-cooking process and raw prawn meat (suitable for sale as a raw product) should not be recoverable after the coating has been removed.

Note that the information provided above on par-cooking times and temperatures to solidify coatings is for guidance only, as import permit applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

How will the department undertake border inspections?

The department will continue to subject 100% of uncooked and BBC prawn consignments to secure seals intact inspections. Inspectors will use the same criteria as outlined above for import permit assessments to assess consignments at the border.

The department’s inspection procedures may also involve attempts to wash off the coating of thawed product and visual comparisons of the product at the border to the photos and information supplied at the import permit application step to ensure consistency.

My prawns are not par-cooked but they take much longer to ‘wash off’ the coating than other non-legitimate product.

The department considered these issues and a number of other potential measures carefully. It was deemed that mandating a par-cooking step was the only way to apply consistent requirements for this class of product.

What about fully cooked prawns that are also BBC coated?

The import conditions for cooked product will apply. All protein in the prawn meat must be coagulated and the consignment must be accompanied by a valid health certificate. Note that cooked prawns are now subject to ongoing randomly selected seals intact inspections, as outlined within the 69-2018 Industry Advice Notice.