Cooking, Quality Control and Labeling sections of the exhibit display a retort cart, trays, cannery signage, labeling machine, boxes, and labeling equipment.

Gallery view – photograph by Brian Wallace.


With the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act in 1970, salmon canners instituted quality control standards to improve the processing efficiency and product quality.

The cannery’s Quality Control or “QC” division consists of trained seasonal staff with clear knowledge of the canning process. The QC assists the maintenance workers and ensures the quality of the canned product.

The QC workers ensure all operations are handled correctly and consistently to a set standard. They inspect the raw fish and the finished product to confirm it meets specifications. Quality Control personnel constantly sample the product and conduct tests based on species, appearance, odor, flavor, the presence or absence of bones, etc. Even the chemistry of canned salmon is tested.

Because fish are more perishable than other protein foods, salmon canners placed a high value on QC to maintain consumer confidence in their brand of salmon.

Clean Up Crew

After the processors left for Midnight Meal, a Clean Up crew washed down the entire cannery until the wee hours of the morning.

On Display

Retort Cart, early to mid-20th century
In the Tail-Off area of the cannery, canned salmon comes off the canning line and is loaded into ‘cooler’ or iron trays, which are stacked six or seven high on top of the retort cart and loaded into the retort for cooking. The cart is set on rails for easy back and forth movement from retort to retort. The same setup is used on the other side of the retort, in which cooked cans are removed, loaded onto the retort cart, and pushed into the cooling warehouse.

Gauge, mid to late 20th century
Retort gauges, like this one displayed, were used by the retort cooker to measure the pressure used in the cooking process. Modern retorts cook over 8,000 cans at a time. Retort cookers paid close attention to pressure gauges because one overcooking could be a costly mistake.