Code of Practice for the Harvest, Transport, Processing, and Export of Seal Products Intended for Human Consumption
Appendix VII: Fresh and Frozen Seal Standard

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1. Introduction

This standard for fresh and frozen seal or minced seal derives its authority from the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations. It defines minimum acceptability for taint, decomposition, and unwholesomeness, and other requirements, other than weight, as defined in the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations.

2. Scope

This standard applies to all fresh, frozen or defrosted seal or minced seal, prepared from any one of the following species:

  1. Harp seal - Pagophilus groenlandicus
  2. Hooded seal - Cystophora cristata
  3. Grey seal - Halichoerus grypus

Fresh and frozen or defrosted seal or minced seal shall be prepared from sound, wholesome raw material.

3. Nomenclature

The common name of the product shall be "seal". The word "seal" may be qualified as to the species type and the form of presentation.

4. Forms of Presentation

4.1 Seal meat may be cut and processed to be presented in various forms. Label information shall accurately represent the form of presentation, e.g., barbecued seal meat, seasoned seal meat.

Specific cuts of seal meat may be labeled to accurately indicate the nature of the cut, e.g., seal flippers, seal loins, etc.

4.2 A form of presentation which differs from meat portions cut from the carcass, is a distinct portion of the animal (e.g., internal organs, sex organs), or is processed to the degree that the physical presentation and the appearance of the final product is unique (e.g., seal sausages, minced seal meat):

  1. may not be labeled as a form of presentation as set out in 4.1; and
  2. must be accurately labeled to identify the presentation form; and
  3. must meet all other requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations

5. Sampling

The sampling and tolerance plans to be used to determine the acceptability of the lot shall be in accordance with the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Sampling Plan for Prepackaged Foods, (AQL 6.5) (CAC/RM 42-1969) except that a lower acceptance number for decomposition shall be used.

Tables within AQL 6.5 specify the minimum number of sample units to be used for the following types of inspections:

  1. Level I - Sensory examinations of all products subject to inspection other than lots which are subject to re-inspection.
  2. Level II - Sensory examinations of all products which are under re-inspection.

6. Description of Defects

6.1 Taint

A unit will be considered tainted when more than 10% of the declared weight is affected by any of the following conditions:

  1. Rancid
    characterized by the distinct or persistent odour or colour of oxidized oil;
  2. Moldy
    characterized by a distinct, or persistant musty odour and appearance.

6.2 Decomposition

A unit will be considered decomposed when more than 10% of the declared weight is affected by the following condition:

  1. Odour
    persistent, distinct and uncharacteristic odour including but not limited to the following:
    ammonia, faecal, hydrogen sulphide, putrid, sour.

6.3 Unwholesome

a) Critical foreign material

A lot will be considered defective when any of the following conditions are found:

  1. The presence of any material which has not been derived from seal and which poses a threat to human health, (such as glass, etc.); or
  2. Distinct and persistent odour of any material which has not been derived from seal and which poses a threat to human health, (such as solvents, fuel oil, etc.); or
  3. Detectable fluorescence indicative of contamination by anti-yellowing solutions or other contaminants.

b) Foreign material

A unit will be considered defective when the following condition is found:

  1. The presence of readily detectable material which has not been derived from seal but does not pose a threat to human health (such as insect pieces, sand, paint, rope, wood chips etc.)

c) Other defects

A lot will be considered defective when the following condition is found:

  1. Any incidence of diseased conditions.

A unit will be considered defective when any of the following conditions are found:

  1. Dehydration (freezer burn)
    • Minced packs - more than 10% of the surface area of the sample unit is affected
    • Other packs - more than 10% of the declared weight of the seal in the unit is affected by dehydration affecting more than 10% of the surface area.
  2. Bone chips (prepared and boneless packs only)

    Each incidence of bone or bone chips.

  3. Undesirable parts
    • Each incidence of viscera or body organs; or
    • Each incidence of tumours or sores; or
    • Each incidence of seal teeth, seal lips, seal whiskers, seal fur etc.
  4. Nematodes

    Each incidence of nematodes found upon the meat. (Nematodes are not normally found in seal meat but due to inadequate cleaning and poor bleeding and evisceration practices, some carcasses can be contaminated by worms from the gut material.)

  5. Gelatinous conditions

    More than 10% of the declared weight of the seal in the unit affected by severely bruised flesh resulting from gunshot wounds or abusive/excessive handling practices, affecting more than 10% of the surface area.

7. Classification of Defects

A sample unit of seal, including minced seal meat is classified defective when one or more of the following conditions are encountered:

  1. Decomposed, when more than 10% of the declared weight of the seal is found to be decomposed as described in Section 6.2, the sample unit is considered decomposed and the lower acceptance number in parentheses is used to determine lot acceptance; or
  2. Tainted, when more than 10% of the declared weight of the seal is found to be tainted as described in Section 6.1, the sample unit is considered tainted and the regular acceptance number is used to determine lot acceptance; or
  3. Tainted/Decomposed, when assessed individually the amounts of tainted or decomposed seal meat are less than 10%, but when combined, the amount of tainted and decomposed seal exceeds more than 10% of the declared weight, the sample unit is rejected as tainted/decomposed and the regular acceptance number is used to determine the lot acceptance.
  4. Unwholesome, when:
    1. The sample unit is affected by foreign matter; or
    2. The sample unit is affected by dehydration that exceeds the tolerance described in Section 6.3; or
    3. The sample unit is affected by gelatinous conditions that exceeds the tolerance described in Section 6.3; or
    4. The sample unit is affected by bones or bone chips (prepared and boneless packs only); or
    5. The sample unit is affected by undesirable parts; or
    6. The sample unit is affected by nematodes.

8. Lot Acceptance

A lot will fail the requirements of this standard when:

  1. any single instance of critical foreign matter is encountered; or
  2. the total number of sample units found defective for tainted, decomposed or unwholesome conditions, individually or in combination, exceeds the acceptance number for the sample size described in the sampling plans; or
  3. the total number of sample units found defective for decomposition exceeds the acceptance number shown in the parentheses for the sample size described in the sampling plans;or
  4. any single instance of diseased conditions is found.

9. Requirements for Physiochemical Attributes and for Contaminant Levels

Seal products processed for human consumption shall meet all of the applicable standards of the Fish Inspection Regulations, and the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations of Canada. In addition seal products exported shall meet the import standards and requirements of the importing country.

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