Chapter 17 - Ante and Post-mortem Procedures, Dispositions, Monitoring and Controls - Meat Species, Ostriches, Rheas and Emus
17.6 Slaughter Operations

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17.6.1 Stunning of Animals

The Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 section 79 requires that all food animals, except for ritual slaughter (MIR section 77), be rendered unconscious (stunned) in a manner that ensures that the animal does not regain consciousness before death or be killed by an appropriate method prior to being bled. For more information regarding stunning methods, equipment and animal restraining methods see Chapter 12 of this manual.

Where it is intended that an animal will be passed for human consumption the following methods may not be used to humanely stun or render the animal insensible due to the risks posed from general dispersal of emboli which may contain brain tissue or foreign material such as hair and/or pathogenic micro-organisms resulting in the adulteration of the carcass and its parts:

  • any penetrating percussion device which injects air into the cranial cavity; and
  • any pithing method used as a supplemental follow-up procedure to one of the approved stunning methods.

For further guidance on the animal welfare requirements, please refer to Chapter 12 of this manual.

17.6.2 Control and Marking of Contamination During Dressing

The operator is responsible to ensure that all dressing procedures are conducted in a sanitary manner and result in non-adulterated meat products destined for human consumption or acceptable animal food.

Each operator shall develop, implement and maintain a control program with regard to the identification and the trimming of carcasses or their parts contaminated during the evisceration process.

Furthermore, each operator shall develop, implement and maintain a control program dealing with the risk of cross contamination from common contact between the meat products and equipment or any other contaminated meat product.

As part of this control program, contact between the carcass and stationary parts of the viscera table, foot guards, any potentially unclean equipment on the kill floor (e.g. high bench) or any other carcass shall be minimized prior to final carcass inspection. In plants where retaining guide bars, or similar devices, are necessary to stabilize the carcass during the dressing, the risk of cross contamination from common contact with equipment must be listed and analyzed according to this control program.

17.6.3 Dressing of Animals

17.6.3.1 Dressing - Generalities

This section provides generalities related to dressing procedures for all red meat species.

General principles:

  • Should a carcass or its parts become contaminated at any time during the dressing process, the plant employee performing the procedure that resulted in the contamination shall immediately identify and mark (or designate for marking) the affected carcass for trimming correction.
  • Contaminated facilities and equipment must be adequately rinsed and sanitized.
  • Pathological lesions shall not be removed (unless permitted by an inspector) until post-mortem inspection is completed.
  • Rail height must be sufficient to preclude carcass contamination from the floor or splashing during dressing and further handling. A minimal height of 30 cm between the floor and the carcass should be maintained during the dressing procedures. A minimal height of 20 cm between the floor and the carcass should be maintained in the cooler.
  • In some dressing procedures, filtered air may be injected under the hide to facilitate hide removal. Care shall be taken to prevent the introduction of contamination under the skin; the needle must be sanitized between each use and back-siphonage prevented.

17.6.3.1.1 Sticking and Bleeding

The landing area, where stunned animals are discharged from the knocking box, shall be kept as clean and as dry as possible. Sticking shall not occur in this area. After being rendered unconscious, the animals shall be promptly hoisted, conveyed to a properly constructed bleeding area, and then bled.

Sufficient space and time must be made available for bleeding so that blood will be confined to the bleeding area. The sticking knife shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized between each animal. Blood intended for edible purposes must be collected without contamination (i.e. by closed collection method), including, in case of OTM cattle, contamination by specified risk material (SRM).

Carcasses shall be spaced, from the bleeding area to the point of approval, in such a way as to prevent skinned carcasses contacting either unskinned or other skinned carcasses or parts.

17.6.3.1.2 Mammary gland, Prepuce and Penis Removal

Lactating mammary glands and mammary lymph nodes shall be removed cautiously in order to prevent the contamination of products, facilities and equipment.

The penis and prepuce must also be removed without contamination of the carcass.

Operators wishing to harvest mammary gland for human consumption should consult the section 17.6.6.1.19 for more details.

Operators wishing to harvest pizzle for human consumption should consult the section 17.6.6.1.12 for more details.

17.6.3.1.3 Brisket Opening and Evisceration

Care must be taken during these steps to prevent contamination.

Tools and equipment used to split the brisket or to open the abdominal cavity must be cleaned before being used. They shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized between each carcass.

Any contamination shall be trimmed from the midline before opening the abdominal cavity.

The carcasses and their parts shall be presented for inspection according to the presentation standard agreed with the Veterinarian in Charge.

Equipment used to present the viscera (e.g. tray, hook, table) shall be clean. Equipment must be adequately rinsed and sanitized before reuse if the viscera or carcass is condemned or the equipment is contaminated. Moving tables and trays shall be automatically rinsed and sanitized. The temperature gauges shall be visible to the viscera inspector.

If carcasses are eviscerated onto a moving top table, the eviscerator is to wear clean rubber boots which are adequately identified (preferably white) and dedicated for this purpose only and an apron. Another pair of boots or shoes must be used when leaving the table. The washing cabinet used by the eviscerator must be connected directly into a drain. Access to the table from the cabinet must be such that when the eviscerator leaves the cabinet he must step directly onto the clean, sanitized portion of the table or a clean stand, but never onto a contaminated table or platform. The eviscerating knife, boots, apron, etc., must be adequately rinsed and sanitized when contamination occurs. However, any contamination on the carcass must be trimmed, not washed.

17.6.3.1.4 Spinal Cord Removal

The spinal cord from OTM cattle carcasses must be completely removed before leaving the evisceration area; refer to Annex D of this chapter for more details. Particular attention needs to be paid to the extremities of the vertebral canal, since it is usually in these areas that pieces of spinal cord are found.

It is not required to remove the spinal cord from UTM cattle carcasses and any other red meat species carcasses. However, the spinal cord shall be removed from the vertebrae from any carcass or carcass part before it is used for the production of Mechanically Separated Meat or Finely Textured Meat.

Note: The Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations may require the removal of the spinal cord for certain species.

17.6.3.1.5 Carcass Trimming and Washing

Carcass trimming must be done in an area designated for that purpose. The trimmed carcasses must be free of stick wounds, blood clots, bruised tissue, pathological defects, contaminants, and dressing defects.

The operator must develop, implement and maintain a control program to make sure carcasses are checked before washing and to ensure the trimming is complete and consistent.

After trimming, all carcasses shall be washed to remove blood and bone dust.

17.6.3.2 Dressing of Bovines

This section describes specific dressing procedures for bovine. Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities as well.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE): certain control measures must be implemented by all operators involved in the slaughter of cattle regardless of the age of the animals slaughtered. Refer to Annex D of this chapter for detailed description of SRM control measures.

17.6.3.2.1 Feet, Hide and Horn Removal

The feet must be removed before the carcass is skinned. The hind feet are removed by skinning the area above and below the place where the leg is to be cut and thus removed without contacting the hide.

The horns and front feet are removed in such a manner as to avoid contamination of the carcass. The equipment used for removing the horns must be easy to clean and sanitize to avoid carrying contamination from one head to another.

During the removal of the feet and the hide, the skin shall be cut from the inside-out to prevent carcass contamination with hair and dirt, except for the necessary starting cuts. The knife used to begin skinning operations must be adequately rinsed and sanitized prior to re-use. Hide shall not contaminate meat products. Skinning should begin at the hind shanks after foot removal and proceed downward, reflecting the hide away from the carcass. If chains or other means of restraining the carcasses during hide removal are employed, these are to be sanitized between carcasses if they contact the exposed areas of the carcass.

Bovine hide can be harvested to manufacture products for human use (i.e. food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc.) or for inedible purposes provided the hide is not contaminated with SRM. Please refer to Annex D of this chapter for further guidance.

Hides shall be moved immediately to the inedible section of the establishment without becoming a source of contamination. If a chute is employed, it shall be adequately baffled; if a doorway is used, it shall be equipped with automatic door shutting mechanisms.

17.6.3.2.2 Bung (Rectum) Dropping

During hide removal, a circular cut is to be made around the anus, taking care to leave the anal sphincter intact. The subsequent cut freeing the anus and rectum from the surrounding tissue must be done with a clean knife. The rectum is then tied together with the neck of the bladder, and then inserted into a plastic bag to prevent contamination and they are then dropped into the pelvic cavity.

17.6.3.2.3 Head Removal and Cleaning

After the head is skinned it should be removed from the carcass without contaminating the exposed tissues. The employee who removes heads shall wash his hands, adequately rinse and sanitize his knives after each animal. Facilities shall be provided for the preparation of the head (i.e. removal of pieces of skin and washing).

Heads, including oral and nasal cavities, shall be thoroughly washed before making any further incision in the musculature. If additional rinsing of the buccal cavity is required to remove any remaining ingesta, this must be performed without contaminating any products including heads from other animals due to splashing. Head washing cabinets shall be connected directly into a drain. Head hooks shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized with 82°C water after every use.

The tongue shall be dropped and palatine tonsils shall be removed to expose the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. The head shall be presented with all lymph nodes in situ and exposed for proper post-mortem inspection. It is preferable that beef heads be hung by the lower jaw to facilitate access to the retropharyngeal lymph nodes.

Refer to section 17.6.6.1.16 of this chapter for the harvesting of edible products from the head.

17.6.3.2.4 Oesophagus Rodding and Tying

The oesophagus shall be rodded or otherwise separated from the surrounding tissues to prevent carcass contamination. Rodding separates the oesophagus from the trachea, lungs and surrounding tissue and permits removal through the diaphragm and thoracic cavity without rupture of the oesophagus during evisceration. To prevent contamination with rumen or abomasal contents (in milk fed calves), the oesophagus shall be effectively tied before evisceration. When the oesophagus is cut as in ritual slaughter, extra care must be taken to ensure the dressed carcass is not contaminated from digestive tract content leakage.

Rodding must be performed in a hygienic manner. The rod shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized between each carcass.

Refer to section 17.6.6.1.17 of this chapter for the harvesting of edible oesophageal musculature.

17.6.3.2.5 Carcass Splitting

Defects that may contaminate the saw or cleaver (e.g. fecal, milk, ingesta, abscess, etc.) must be sanitarily removed before splitting the carcass.

The splitting saw or cleaver must always be adequately rinsed and sanitized after becoming contaminated and after splitting a held carcass.

17.6.3.3 Dressing of Calves

This section describes specific dressing procedures for calves. Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities.

The dressing procedures are similar to those described for cattle, except that carcass splitting is not required.

For the purpose of labelling and fair practices, a veal carcass is defined in the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations. The dressed veal carcasses should be properly identified from the beef carcasses under an operator's control program.

17.6.3.4 Dressing of Ovine and Caprine

This section describes specific dressing procedures for ovine and caprine. Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities.

Ovine and caprine are dressed using the same dressing procedures as described for bovines, except that carcass splitting and bung tying are not required. The oesophagus must be ligatured to prevent regurgitation during evisceration.

Hide removal from ovine and caprine carcasses requires extensive hand-to-carcass contact; plant employees must prevent carcass contamination from dirty hands, knives, and pelts.

Goat carcasses may be scalded and dehaired with the skin left on, in which case the dressing procedure is comparable to the dressing procedure of hogs, except for the head that shall be removed.

17.6.3.5 Dressing of Farmed Game Animals (Ruminants)

This section describes specific dressing procedures for farmed game animals (ruminants). Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities.

The carcasses of ruminant farmed game animals are dressed using the same dressing procedures as described for cattle.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a reportable disease of wild and domestic cervids. Where applicable, all approved carcasses and their parts must be properly identified and detained pending laboratory results. Health Canada is in agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) that at this time there is no scientific evidence to suggest that CWD in cervids can be transmitted to humans. However, it is recommended that any tissue which may come from CWD infected cervids should not be used or consumed by humans. Refer to Chapters 5 and 9 of this manual for more information.

17.6.3.6 Dressing of Horses

This section describes specific dressing procedures for horses. Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities.

The dressing procedures are similar to those described for cattle.

Rodding is not necessary due to the anatomy of the equine cardiac sphincter.

17.6.3.7 Dressing of Ostriches, Rheas and Emus

This section describes specific dressing procedures for ostriches, rheas and emus. Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities.

The dressing procedures are similar to those described for cattle except that splitting of the carcass is not required.

Note: For ostriches and rheas, to promote better bleeding, it is preferable to sever the major blood vessels (jugular veins and carotids) in the caudal cervical area near the thoracic inlet provided the thoracic cavity is not penetrated. Emus may be bled by cutting the major vessels near the cranial part of the neck similar to turkeys.

If the metatarsi and feet are saved for edible purposes, please consult section 17.6.6.1.1.

17.6.3.7.1 Feather Removal

The following choices are available to the operator:

  • feathers may be left on the carcass for skinning. In this case, the midline has to be cleaned (plucked) prior to opening; or
  • feathers may be taken off after stunning and bleeding, prior to skinning. Feathers must be removed in an acceptable manner such as dry hand picking or clipping.

All feathers and dander must be removed prior to evisceration. Feathers shall be collected in an acceptable manner and be rapidly removed to the inedible area. Dander contamination of the evisceration area is unacceptable and must be prevented. Defeathered carcasses shall be washed prior to opening.

17.6.3.7.2 Venting

The vent shall be carefully dissected from its attachment, encased in a plastic bag, and securely tied to prevent leakage of cloacal contents throughout the skinning and evisceration procedures.

17.6.3.7.3 Neck and Head Removal

The neck and the trachea must be presented for post-mortem inspection. The skin is removed from the neck. The neck and the trachea may remain attached to the carcass or may be removed. The head must also be presented for inspection.

17.6.3.7.4 Evisceration

It is suggested that for ostriches the evisceration begins by removal of the breast plate (rattus) by cutting the ribs on both sides of the plate. The breast plate is then pulled down to expose the thoracic viscera. For rheas and emus, the breast bone may be split along the midline. The heart, lungs and the liver should be removed first to minimize potential contamination from the gastrointestinal tract.

Evisceration continues with a midline abdominal incision caudal (posterior) to the breast plate as performed in beef cattle. Caution should be exercised not to perforate the friable intestine.

The bagged vent is pulled through the vent opening into the abdominal cavity. The liver (if not previously removed) and spleen are removed with the intestinal tract, separated, and placed for inspection in the viscera inspection tray. The intestinal tract must be placed in a separate tray for inspection. Heart and lungs are removed (if not previously removed) as a unit and placed with the liver and spleen for inspection. Kidneys must be observed in the carcass by an inspector, then removed from their crypts by the eviscerator and presented with the heart for inspection.

17.6.3.8 Dressing of Swine

This section describes specific dressing procedures for swine. Please also consult section 17.6.3.1 - Dressing – Generalities.

Although swine are usually dressed skin-on, they can also be dressed skin-off.

Subsequent steps of dressing are similar to those described for cattle.

17.6.3.8.1 Swine - Hide-On Dressing

17.6.3.8.1.1 Scalding, Dehairing, Singeing, Resin-Dipping, Polishing and Shaving

All of these operations have but one purpose: the removal of bristles, scurf and dirt, prior to the carcass being washed and subsequently opened. Any bristle removal necessary after the opening of the carcass must be done by skinning.

Toenails must be removed during these steps if they are still present on the feet. Feet must also be free of dirt, scurf and bristles. This is required even though the feet may not be subsequently harvested as an edible product. The interdigital spaces require special attention to ensure that they are completely free of dirt, scurf and bristles. Although the removal of the interdigital gland is no longer required in market hogs the operator may find that removal of the skin from the interdigital space is still necessary to satisfactorily remove all scurf and bristle.

If scald water additives are used, they must be approved for this particular use.

17.6.3.8.1.2 Pre-evisceration Wash

Washing shall result in the complete removal of any loose dirt, bristles, and scurf from the carcass prior to evisceration.

Once this washing is done and as soon as the carcass is incised for the evisceration, it shall not be washed again until the final approval.

17.6.3.8.2 Swine - Skin-Off Dressing

The process for hide removal is similar to the one described for cattle.

There must be an effective and approved method of carcass wash prior to the beginning of hide removal.

The feet shall be removed after the washing of the carcass but prior to the commencement of the hide removal process and in such a manner as to avoid contamination of the carcass. The hide must be completely removed prior to bunging or any other operations that involve opening of the body cavity.

17.6.3.8.3 Head Dropping or Removal

The head can either be partially severed from the rest of the carcass (dropped) or removed. In either case, the equipment used must be sanitized between each use. If heads or tongues or both are removed, they must be identified in such a way that identity is maintained until inspection is completed.

Heads from scalded swine must be free of all bristle, dirt and scurf. If this cannot be accomplished by scalding, dehairing, singeing and shaving, then it is necessary to scalp the head. This should be done after the pre-evisceration carcass wash to minimize contamination of exposed head tissue.

Heads, including oral cavity, shall be thoroughly washed before moving from the evisceration floor or being deboned on site. If cabinets are used for the head washing, they shall be connected directly into a drain and head hooks shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized with 82°C water after every use.

In skin off swine, after the head is skinned it should be removed from the carcass without contaminating the exposed tissues. The employee who removes heads shall wash his hands, adequately rinse and sanitize his knives after each animal. Facilities shall be provided for the preparation of the head (i.e. removal of pieces of skin and head washing). Head washing cabinets shall be connected directly into a drain. Head hooks shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized with 82°C water after every use.

Heads deboned on site must be cleaned in order to prevent contamination of harvested meat products. Racks (e.g. hooks or cones) for heads must be adequately rinsed and sanitized as required, in order to prevent contamination of meat products.

The mandibular lymph nodes must be presented for inspection.

Refer to section 17.6.6.1.16 of this chapter for the harvesting of edible products from the head.

17.6.3.8.4 Carcass Splitting

The carcass shall be split in the middle of the vertebral column up to the neck area so it is opened sufficiently wide enough to view the inside without pulling apart the ventral opening.

In order to reduce build-up of organic material and maintain microbial load at an acceptable level, the splitting saw shall be sanitized at an interval as determined by the risk analysis of the operator.

The splitting saw shall be rinsed and sanitized after each held carcass or when the saw is contaminated.

17.6.4 Special Dressing Procedures

17.6.4.1 Dressing on a Bed System

Bed or cradle-type dressing requires an excellent working technique due to the higher risk of product contamination when this system is used.

The same sanitary skinning principles outlined for the rail system apply to the bed system. After removing the head, the carcass is placed on a skinning bed. Care should be taken to avoid contamination of neck tissue at this time. Exposed tissue must not contact the floor, cradle or outside skin surfaces. When the carcass is being moved from the skinning bed, the exposed parts shall not contact the floor, cradle or other contaminated objects, including the outer side of the skin, employee boots and aprons, etc. The floor in this area must be cleaned after each carcass by washing and, if contaminated with pus or other septic material, by sanitizing. Washing must not result in splash contamination.

17.6.4.2 Partial Dressing of Animals

The policy on partial dressing of carcasses may apply to any species of food animals in order to meet special market needs as per the provisions given in the subsection 9(2) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.

If an operator wishes to prepare partially dressed carcasses for a species or class of animal for which a partial dressing policy exist in this manual (see the following sections), he must implement a control program in order to ensure that the requirements of the Regulations and this manual are met.

Should an operator wish to prepare partially dressed carcasses for a species or class of animal for which a partial dressing policy does not exist in this manual, the operator will submit to the Veterinarian in Charge a detailed description of the dressing procedure including the procedure for the presentation of the visceral organs and tissues to the inspection staff for routine post-mortem inspection as well as the proposed control program. This partial dressing procedure must be approved by the VIC in consultation with the Regional Veterinary Officer (RVO) as well as the Area and the National Red Meat Program Specialists.

Food animals identified for partial dressing shall receive thorough ante mortem and post mortem inspection. In case any abnormality relating to a possible food safety concern is observed in the carcass or its parts (e.g. lumps, internal abscess, etc.), the operator must ensure that the carcass is dressed in the traditional manner as prescribed by this chapter.

17.6.4.2.1 Partial Dressing of BBQ Hogs

Partial dressing of BBQ hogs consist of normal dressing procedures without splitting the carcass.

Partial dressing of BBQ hogs shall only apply to normal healthy stock of market age or younger.

17.6.4.2.2 Partial Dressing of Ovine and Caprine

This section is currently under review.

17.6.4.2.3 Partial Dressing of Calves

Hide-on partial dressing is not permitted.

Since June 4, 2004, the CFIA prohibits hide-on dressing of calves. This facilitates the inspection of carcasses at the time of dressing for the presence of injection sites and hormonal growth promotant implants.

17.6.5 Presentation of Carcasses and Parts for Post-Mortem Inspection

The operator shall present all carcasses and some of their parts in such a way as to permit proper and efficient post-mortem inspection. Carcasses and their parts shall be presented according to the presentation standard as agreed before hand with the Veterinarian in Charge.

The operator shall develop, implement and maintain a control program as prescribed by the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 to ensure proper and consistent presentation of carcasses and parts that requires a post-mortem inspection. This control program shall include monitoring procedures, corrective actions and preventive measures to be taken when deviations to proper presentation occur.

The operator shall ensure that:

  • all parts presented are within reach of the inspector when it is necessary to handle them for inspection;
  • no part is hidden by contamination to an extent that it hinders the inspection; and
  • 50% or more of each carcass part is readily visible without manipulation by the inspector.

In the case where a part of a carcass is missing or incomplete, the veterinarian or inspector may take into consideration the nature of this part, the condition of the carcass and the rest of the viscera, and the health status of the herd of origin to determine the disposition of this carcass and its parts. Corrective and preventive measures must be implemented by the operator to avoid such situations.

Where the dressing of the carcass includes its splitting, the carcass shall be split prior to receiving a CFIA carcass inspection, unless otherwise prescribed in this chapter.

For plants operating under:

  • High Line Speed Inspection System (HLIS) for beef, see also Annex B of this chapter;
  • HACCP Based Slaughter Inspection Program (HIP) for Swine, see also Annex C of this chapter.

17.6.6 Preparation of Carcass Parts for Human Food, Animal Food, Pharmaceutical or Research Use

This section describes the preparation of those parts which are removed from a carcass during the dressing process.

Unless otherwise indicated in section 17.6.6.1 or defined as SRM, any carcass part derived from an approved carcass can be identified as edible. However, before harvesting any carcass part for human food which is not listed in section 17.6.6.1, approval must be provided by the Area Red Meat Program Specialist.

Submission of a proposal to the CFIA must include:

  • the demonstration through the HACCP system that potential hazards to human health are adequately controlled for this particular activity;
  • applicable GMP and examination procedures, including the monitoring program; and
  • assurance that parts are clearly identified and maintain their integrity all along the production/distribution chain up to the consumer.

Some general principles apply to the preparation of carcass parts harvested for other usage (e.g. animal food, pharmaceutical use, research use). Refer to sections 17.6.6.2 and 17.6.6.3 for more details.

17.6.6.1 Carcass Parts Collected for Human Food

Unless otherwise specified in Section 17.7 of this chapter, the operator is not required to present carcass parts to the CFIA for inspection. Only carcass parts harvested under hygienic conditions, derived from approved carcasses, and free of pathological lesions may be identified as edible meat products. The identity of these parts shall be maintained until the corresponding dressed carcass is approved. Part from several carcasses can be collected into one container pending approval of the carcasses. If such is the case and in the event a carcass is condemned, all parts collected in that particular container shall be condemned.

The operator shall ensure that all parts including those inspected by the CFIA, receive a thorough examination under a written Control Program as prescribed by the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 to verify that any visible defects (e.g. lumps; tumours, abscesses; parasitic lesions; adhesions; scar tissue; fecal, ingesta, or milk contamination, etc.) are removed before these meat products are identified as edible. In some cases, presence of one defect (e.g. abscess) may lead to rejection of this carcass part for the purpose of human consumption. Refer to the disposition criteria included in this section for more details.

Edible products that contain a combination of different parts (mixed, grounded or comminuted) must ensure that the label accurately and clearly identifies the names of all parts (See Chapter 7 for details concerning usual name of a meat product). Once identified as an edible meat product, the sale of such product to any customers including pet food manufacturers would not be restricted.

It is important to note that although several parts of a carcass may be salvaged and sold as such for human consumption, their incorporation into prepared meat products in a registered establishment would constitute adulteration (e.g. spleens, brains). Refer to Section 21 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 for more details.

17.6.6.1.1 Feet

Feet may be harvested for human food provided the following conditions are met:

  • feet are scalded and cleaned;
  • hooves are removed from feet; and,
  • the proximal end of the foot (i.e. the exposed surface of the articulation), which has been contaminated during the scalding and cleaning process, is resected to remove the contaminated portion.

Note: Feet from approved carcasses that have not reached edible status shall be shipped with a CFIA/ACIA 1452 and an official seal from one registered slaughter establishment to another registered establishment for scalding, cleaning, trimming and further preparation as an edible meat product.

Alternate methods of preparing feet as specialty products (e.g. Korean style long beef feet) can be acceptable. The preparation method must be submitted for review and approval by the Veterinarian in Charge. As required, he will consult the Regional Veterinary Officer (RVO) and the Area Red Meat Program Specialist. The product must meet consumer specifications. The name of the product must adequately describe the product and include (as part of the name) the expression "Specialty Product". The product must be produced under a written quality assurance program that includes, among other relevant components, appropriate corrective actions for both organoleptic and microbiological monitoring should the product be found out of compliance with production specifications.

17.6.6.1.2 Brains

Brains must not be contaminated (e.g. bone splinters, hide, hair, etc.) and the blood clots must be removed.

Brains from OTM bovine are considered Specified Risk Material (SRM).

17.6.6.1.3 Thyroid Gland and Laryngeal Muscles

The thyroid gland and laryngeal muscles cannot be harvested for edible purpose.

17.6.6.1.4 Hearts

Hearts shall be cut open or inverted to permit the complete removal of all blood clots.

Hearts shall be trimmed as follows:

  • The aorta and other major blood vessels are to be removed to within 2 cm of their origin from the external surface of the heart to the end of the cut vessels.
  • The atria do not need to be routinely trimmed, except to accommodate removal of the major blood vessels and, if applicable, the os cordis (heart bone).

17.6.6.1.5 Livers

Livers from all species, except horse due to their high cadmium contents, may be prepared for human food. The gall bladder shall be removed from the liver but can be harvested separately as edible.

Minor scar lesions on the surface of porcine livers (i.e. milk spots, parasitic scar lesions) can be left on the offal if this is acceptable to the buyer or otherwise be removed.

The operator shall open the hepatic ducts longitudinally and examine them for the presence of liver flukes.

Livers with defects such as parasites (e.g. flukes), lump, tumour, abscess (1 or more) shall not be harvested for human consumption.

17.6.6.1.6 Lungs

Lungs which contain water from the scalding tank cannot be harvested as edible products.

The operator shall split the trachea and main bronchi to examine for parasitic infestation and presence of contamination. This activity may be performed on the evisceration floor. Lungs selected from hooks/tables/trays destined for edible use must be kept separate from other edible organs and products until the trachea is opened and washed and the lung has passed the operator's acceptance evaluation.

Lungs with defects such as parasites, lump, tumour, abscess (one or more) shall not be harvested for human consumption.

17.6.6.1.7 Spleen

Spleen with defects such as lump, tumour, abscess (one or more) shall not be harvested for human consumption.

17.6.6.1.8 Portions of Gastro-Intestinal Tract

Appropriate measures to achieve a complete control of hazards associated with contamination and cross contamination of other meat products during all steps of their preparation, including control of aerosols and movement of employees shall be implemented should an operator wish to harvest portions of gastro-intestinal tract for human consumption.

17.6.6.1.8.1 Harvesting

All portions of gastro-intestinal tract can be harvested as edible for human consumption. Note that the distal ileum of bovines of all ages is considered SRM and cannot be harvested for edible and inedible purposes. Refer to Annex D of this chapter for more details.

The opening, emptying and cleaning of the portions of gastro-intestinal tract shall be performed in an area that is physically separated from the evisceration area. The air flow and the movement of the employees assigned to these tasks shall be designed to prevent cross contamination.

17.6.6.1.8.2 Cleaning

Portions of gastro-intestinal tract shall be emptied and cleaned as soon as possible. These products achieve an edible status once the following steps are completed:

  • Portions of gastro-intestinal tract shall be rinsed with potable water until the water dripping from the product is clear.
  • After rinsing, the product shall be trimmed to remove any visible contamination or defect (e.g. parasites, parasitic lesions, inflammation, foreign bodies, lump, etc.).
  • After cleaning, the product shall be examined by a responsible plant employee, prior to further handling.

Cleaned portions of gastro-intestinal tract can be sold as is.

Occasionally, the cleaning step may be followed by a refining process (see 17.6.6.1.8.3). In this case, the examination and the trimming can be performed once the refining process is complete.

17.6.6.1.8.3 Refining

Once cleaned, portions of gastro-intestinal tract often undergo further refining treatments with water and chemicals to enhance their appearance, to meet certain specific market needs or to meet regulatory requirements.

Refining as a process varies greatly according to desired outcome and usually consists of scalding with warm water or chemicals, or both. When chemicals are used for refining, they must be safe and suitable and be used according to the manufacturer's recommendation.

It is no longer mandatory to register non-food chemicals. The existing Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemical will continue to be accessible on the CFIA website but will no longer be updated. Please refer to Chapter 3, Pre-requisite Programs for the requirements for acceptable non-food chemical products.

Refining, when done to enhance the visual appearance of a product, is optional. However, Canadian regulation prescribes refining in certain situations and some importing countries impose testing of the finished products for pathogens, making it important to do some form of refining. The operator is responsible to demonstrate to the inspector that specific requirements of the importing country have been met in case of export.

In Canada, refining is a mandatory step and must achieve complete removal of the mucosa of the gastric compartments of ruminants and of the monogastric stomach when the intent is to use these by-products in the fabrication of prepared meat product. Refining to remove the mucosa is also mandatory in the preparation of casings.

17.6.6.1.9 Casing Preparation

Casings may be prepared from cleaned portions of gastro-intestinal tract , bladders and oesophagi of all red meat species covered in this chapter (excluding those parts that are considered SRM) as long as it's prepared in compliance with subsection 15 (2) of Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.

The not fully cleaned portions of gastro-intestinal tract for casings shall be shipped with a CFIA/ACIA 1452 and an official seal, as the product has not yet reached an edible status, the cleaning step not being completed. Portions of gastro-intestinal tract shall be refrigerated pending further processing, if not otherwise preserved, as they are sensitive to deterioration during storage. Saturated salting of portions of gastro-intestinal tract and casings will have an effective anti-microbial and preservation function.

In the case of a urinary bladder, it may be identified and used as a natural casing for a meat product if the content and mucous lining are removed and it is washed and tested for cleanliness. It shall also be inverted and placed in brine for at least 12 hours and subsequently rinsed with water.

17.6.6.1.10 Kidneys

Kidneys from food animals may be harvested as an edible product.

However, current Health Canada policy does not permit the harvesting of horse kidneys for edible purposes due to their high cadmium content.

Kidneys from ostriches, rheas and emus shall also be condemned unless growers/processors desire to save kidneys as edible and provide data indicating that levels of heavy metals (primarily Cadmium) are within a range acceptable to Health Canada.

Kidneys shall not be used in the production of particular meat product, unless prepared in accordance with section 14 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.

17.6.6.1.11 Uteri

The uteri of any animal can be harvested for edible purposes. Only non gravid uteri of nulliparous animals (animals which have never been pregnant) can be collected.

17.6.6.1.12 Testicles and Pizzle

This section is currently under review.

17.6.6.1.13 Fatty Tissues

The sanitary collection of clean fatty tissue for edible purposes from approved dressed carcasses and approved detached portions shall be carried out as speedily as possible and refrigerated or rendered without delay after collection.

Fat which is directly sent to edible rendering, does not have to be cooled to 4°C before shipping. However, the operator must handle and send the fat to the rendering facility in a manner which ensures its wholesomeness and prevents its rancidity.

17.6.6.1.14 Tails

Tails from all animals may be harvested as an edible product.

17.6.6.1.15 Heads for Edible Retail Sale

This section is currently under review.

17.6.6.1.16 Meat from Heads Deboned at the Time of Slaughter

This section is currently under review.

17.6.6.1.17 Oesophagus Meat

The oesophagus can be harvested by cutting through its musculature distally adjacent to the rumen/stomach without cutting into the mucosal lumen. The oesophagus is then pulled away from the rumen/stomach.

17.6.6.1.18 Blood

Blood is highly perishable and must be handled carefully to avoid contamination during collection. The operator can use a closed container connected directly to a cannula or a hollow knife in order to avoid contamination (e.g. hairs, dust, foreign material, etc.) of the harvested blood. Simply holding an open pail under the carcass is not acceptable. The equipment used for the collection of blood, which is done either on an individual or lot basis, shall be adequately rinsed and sanitized between each carcass or lot, as appropriate.

Blood clotting is prevented by either using approved anti-coagulants or mechanical defibrination. The latter must be done with suitable beaters (not with hands), which are rinsed and sanitized after each carcass.

Blood intended for edible purposes shall be identified to the carcass until that carcass is determined to be edible, as prescribed by section 52 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990. Any condition found on the post-mortem examination which requires whole carcass condemnation makes it necessary to also condemn the blood.

17.6.6.1.19 Udder and Mammary Glands

These parts can be harvested for edible purposes as long as they come from nulliparous animals (animals which have never been pregnant).

17.6.6.1.20 Thymus gland

Thymus gland may be harvested as an edible product.

17.6.6.2 Inedible Carcass Parts Collected for Animal Food

Inedible parts collected for animal food need not be trimmed to remove contamination, hide, bone splinters, blood clots, parasites or minor pathologies of aesthetic nature such as dry adhesions or scar tissue.

For certain pathologies, utilization for animal food is authorized only after removal of the lesions.

Parts collected for animal food shall be denatured, labelled and stored in accordance with the policy in Chapter 6.

The specified risk material (SRM) cannot be harvested for animal food purposes.

17.6.6.3 Foetuses and Carcass Parts for Pharmaceutical or Research Purposes

The salvage of carcass parts for pharmaceutical or research use may be permitted if such salvage does not interfere with sanitary operations in the establishment. Whole foetuses or their parts may also be allowed to be salvaged for pharmaceutical or research purposes. Refer to Annex D of this chapter for procedures on disposal of bovine foetuses or SRM recovered from bovine foetuses and new born calves.

It is not permitted to salvage parts or foetuses when they, or the carcasses from which they originate, have been condemned because of a zoonotic condition. Similarly, it is not permitted to salvage parts or foetuses originating from animals licensed to slaughter because of a zoonotic condition on the farm of origin, e.g. brucellosis, rabies, etc.

It may be acceptable to harvest bile directly on the kill floor provided the procedure is performed in a hygienic manner. The harvested bile must be conveyed without delay to the inedible products area for preparation and packaging.

If salvaged products are derived from condemned or contaminated carcasses or carcass parts, these products must be harvested in a hygienic manner and conveyed without delay to the inedible products area in compliance with section 54 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 for preparation and packaging.

Operators wishing to salvage products (carcass parts or foetuses) for pharmaceutical or research purposes must develop, implement and maintain a control program to ensure maintenance of acceptable hygienic standards.

17.6.6.4 Carcass Parts for Artistic or Educational Purpose

A slaughter plant operator may provide carcass parts to an educational institution or to an individual for artistic purposes. Only healthy parts from inspected and approved carcasses shall be collected. The plant operator is responsible to provide only parts of an acceptable hygienic status and shall instruct the buyer, in writing, on the basic hygienic principles with which products should be handled.

Under certain conditions, it is possible to provide OTM bovine skulls from edible carcasses. Consult the CFIA Animal Health District Office or the Veterinarian in Charge for more details on requirements.

17.6.7 Application of the Meat Inspection Legend

The use of the Meat Inspection Legend is only permitted in connection with edible meat products in a registered establishment.

The Meat Inspection Legend shall be applied to the carcass before cooling. Only one legend per carcass is necessary on each unsplit carcass or one legend per side if the carcass is completely split before cooling.

The Meat Inspection Legend shall not be used on inedible meat products or on containers of inedible meat products.

Note that a meat product that would not qualify as edible in Canada may be exported provided the requirements of the importing country are met. In this case, the product is labelled with the Meat Inspection Legend and the label bear the mention that the product is destined for export in compliance with subsection 122(2) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.

See Chapter 7 for more information on labelling and usage of the meat inspection legend.

17.6.8 Delayed Evisceration

Evisceration and dressing of carcasses can sometime be delayed for extended periods during the slaughter operation, for example, following a mechanical failure.

In the event the evisceration is completed more than 120 minutes following the bleeding, a microbiological risk evaluation of the carcasses and their parts will be required by the operator to verify that microbial levels are acceptable and to demonstrate that quality of the meat products has been maintained before being released into commerce.

The presence of a greenish hue in the kidney fat and on the peritoneal wall and a soft and flaccid diaphragm are indications that the carcass' quality has been compromised by the delay in evisceration.

17.6.9 Additional Slaughter Controls Over Fecal, Ingesta and Milk

Operators of Federally Registered Establishments cannot identify as edible any contaminated meat. Possible contamination of the meat products is prevented by ensuring hygienic procedures during dressing and evisceration. When contamination inadvertently occurs, it will be promptly removed by the operator in a hygienic manner.

Fecal, ingesta and milk may contain pathogens that render meat products adulterated. Accordingly, operators must demonstrate, in an auditable format through carcass evaluation, that carcasses are free of visible fecal, ingesta and milk (as applicable to the species slaughtered) after final trimming but prior to final carcass washing, as referred to in section 17.6.3.1.5 of this chapter.

In the event that fecal, ingesta or milk is detected at the evaluation, all carcasses produced since the last successful evaluation must be identified by the operator and subjected to procedures that will ensure the identified carcasses are free of visible fecal, ingesta and milk.

Also upon detection of visible fecal, ingesta or milk during this evaluation, the operator must investigate the root cause of the defect and implement effective corrective actions. Records of these evaluations (including detection of fecal, ingesta or milk); root cause investigations and their corrective actions; and procedures to identify and return potentially affected carcasses to freedom from visible fecal, ingesta and milk defects must be maintained in an auditable format and made available to the CFIA on request.

The operator shall re-evaluate their HACCP system to incorporate carcass evaluation (after final trimming but prior to final carcass washing) and fecal, ingesta and milk control procedures, as appropriate.

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