Watch a video on canned tuna processing.
Tuna is delivered to our cannery either directly from the fishing vessel or from reefer ships delivering from foreign fishing companies. The frozen tuna delivered is moved promptly from the vessel into cold storage facilities.
During the unloading, the fish are grouped according to size and weight which provides uniformity in thawing and precooking. As soon as the catch is unloaded, Bumble Bee specialists inspect the condition of the fish delivered.
To begin processing, tuna are moved from the freezer to thawing tanks where it is prepared for initial cleaning. The tuna is then loaded into metal racks, which are wheeled into large steam pressure-cooking chambers, called retorts. Tuna is baked for a prescribed time and temperature, depending upon the size of the fish. This steam baking removes excess oils and prepares the tuna for the easy removal of skin and bones. After baking, the racks of tuna are moved to a temperature-controlled room for cooling. Once the tuna is cooled it is sent to the cleaning tables where the separation of meat from skin & bones begins.
The cleaned loins are then moved to the canning process. Cans are automatically filled with tuna and move in a single line from the filling machine to the vacuum sealer. Next the cans of tuna automatically receive the appropriate measure of salt, vegetable broth, water or oil. Lids are then automatically clinched on the top of the can before entering the vacuum sealer, where the air is withdrawn and the lid hermetically sealed. The cans proceed through a water bath for cleaning off oil residue and then are placed back into retort baskets. After the prescribed cook time and temperature the sterilized canned tuna is removed from the retort and moved to a cooling area. When the cans have cooled they are labeled. If the product receives Q.A. (Quality Assurance) approval, it is sent to the warehouse for shipment to the marketplace.