Chapter 19 – Poultry Inspection Programs
19.4 Dressing Procedures

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It is the operator's responsibility to ensure that all dressing procedures are conducted in a sanitary manner and result in non-adulterated meat products fit for human consumption or animal food.

19.4.1 Poultry Dressing Procedures

19.4.1.1 Bleeding

Bleeding must be conducted in a sanitary manner and the bleeding time shall not be less than 90 seconds.

19.4.1.2 Defeathering and Washing

In the dressing of poultry carcasses, all hair, feathers, dirt, scurf, etc., must be completely removed and the carcass thoroughly washed prior to any further incision being made.

In order to reduce the attachment of Salmonella and other bacteria to the skin, spray washing of carcasses must occur within fifteen (15) seconds after defeathering and after carcass transfer. Sprays at both washing stations shall be of sufficient volume and pressure, to completely remove visible foreign material from the surface of the carcass including the hocks and any exposed surfaces as a result of bleeding or decapitation.

19.4.1.3 Removal of Oil Glands, Heads and Feet

Oil glands, heads and feet may be removed from poultry carcasses, either before or after evisceration. Oil glands, heads and feet removed before evisceration may only be removed after carcasses have been defeathered and thoroughly washed. If feet are presented with the carcass for post mortem inspection or examination, they must be free of visible contamination (e.g., manure).

19.4.1.4 Evisceration

Poultry carcasses must be eviscerated with respect to the following:

  • carcasses and viscera must be hung in a way that will allow for internal cavity, viscera and external carcass examination (refer to corresponding Presentation Standards in this Chapter);
  • accumulated water present in the vent area, must be removed prior to opening the carcass;
  • the integrity of the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) must be maintained throughout venting, opening and evisceration operations for all species of poultry including game birds (refer to the Evisceration Standards described in this chapter);
  • the incision made should be no longer than required to permit evisceration; and,
  • hands or equipment must be visibly clean before entering the abdominal cavity.

After post mortem inspection or examination, all viscera including the esophagus, crop, cloaca, lungs, trachea, kidneys and reproductive organs, shall be removed from the carcass before the final wash, and shall be handled as inedible material.

Note: Kidneys and reproductive organs for young chicken under 2.7 kg average live weight or young ducks under 4 kg average live weight may be left in.

Oil glands, crops and tracheas are inedible products and may be used as mink food or for the preparation of other animal food.

Prior to the chilling system, the inside and the outside of the carcass shall be adequately washed.

19.4.1.5 Application of a Water Film during Evisceration Procedures

Operators with evisceration equipment designed to completely detach the viscera, may spray the cavity and the viscera provided that:

  • consistent and adequate water pressure and volume is supplied to all the spray nozzles applied to the carcass and/or viscera during venting, opening and evisceration operations;
  • ongoing testing for generic E. coli indicate compliance with the USDA Pathogen Reduction/HACCP requirements as outlined in the US section of Chapter 11 of this manual; and
  • post mortem examination is not compromised by excessive water in the cavity or by loss of significant evidence of disease.

Note: Operators with equipment which does not fully separate the viscera from the carcass are not permitted to shower carcasses or viscera unless the equipment first passes a test under the generic protocol (see Annex C of this chapter).

19.4.1.6 Evisceration Standards (ES)

The Evisceration Standards are a PC to prevent/control contamination caused by accidents during the venting, opening and evisceration operations. These standards support the following processes:

  • viscera Defect Detection;
  • cavity Defect Detection & Trimming/Final Examination;
  • giblets & Neck Harvesting; and
  • reprocessing/Reconditioning/Salvaging.

19.4.1.6.1 Elements of the Evisceration Standards (ES)

The ES monitoring tool has two (2) general components:

  • Process Evaluation; and
  • Corrective Measure(s) evaluation.

The Process Evaluation monitors the contamination caused by accidents during the venting, opening and evisceration operations as described in the ES. It is performed at a consistent frequency on successive lots. It determines if the process meets the standards on an on-going basis.

The Corrective Measure(s) evaluation is an assessment of the adequacy of corrective measures that have been implemented following a rejected sample. It determines if the required corrections have been put into effect to insure that the process meets the standards.

19.4.1.6.2 Facility Requirements for On-line Monitoring Station

The evaluation may be performed at the same station as for the Presentation Standards. For more details on the facility requirements for the ES, refer to the Presentation Standards station under the "Plant Construction and Equipment" section of this chapter.

19.4.1.6.3 Position for the On-line Monitoring ES Station

The monitoring for the ES shall be performed on-line immediately following the evisceration operations (including a back-up employee if required) and before the viscera and/or cavity defect detectors (including the handling of carcasses and/or viscera by other employees) in a manner to avoid sampling bias. The location for the Presentation Standards evaluation may be used for this purpose.

19.4.1.6.4 Training of the ES Establishment Monitor

The ES establishment monitor shall be trained and accredited as per the Training Protocol described in Annex B of this chapter.

19.4.1.6.5 Sampling Procedure

The on-line testing procedure used for the ES shall be similar to the random sampling selection specified for the Defect Detection Standards (DDS), as described in section 19.6.2.5.2.6, "Sampling Procedure". However, the carcass examination area is restricted to the cavity opening (as defined below) and the carcass cavity.

19.4.1.6.6 Sampling Frequency, Sample Size and Acceptance criteria

The interim accept/reject numbers specified in this section are based on the data collected during a national survey performed by the CFIA and Industry. These interim accept/reject numbers shall be used during an abattoir specific implementation phase of 12 months to facilitate the transition between the current abattoir monitoring tool and these national standards. The interim accept/reject numbers may be reassessed at the end of the implementation phase based on data collected in agreement with the CFIA and the processors.

An accredited plant employee shall conduct scheduled tests on the specified number of carcasses on an hourly basis.

The sample size and the interim accept/reject numbers for use during the implementation period for the Evisceration Standards evaluation are indicated in the following table:

Evisceration Standards for Chicken, Fowl and Turkey
Sampling Frequency, Sample Size and AC/RE Numbers
Lot Size Process Evaluation Corrective Measure(s) Evaluation Chicken and Fowl Ac Chicken and Fowl Re Turkey Ac Turkey Re
≤ 5,000 cph
(max. 1 hour/lot)
32 Carcasses
(each hour)
32 Carcasses
(within 10 minutes Table Note 3)
3 4 5 6
≥ 5,001 cph
(max. 1 hour/lot)
50 Carcasses
(each hour)
50 Carcasses
(within 10 minutes Table Note 3)
5 6 8 9

Table Note

Table note 3

Approximate delay required in order to evaluate the effect of the corrective measures at the ES station

Return to table note 3  referrer

19.4.1.6.7 ES Defects

For the purpose of the ES, the cavity opening is defined as the pelvic opening of the carcass including the tissue between the point of the keel, the tip of the tail and the two pelvic bones.

The evaluation of evisceration operations shall include observing for the presence of either the following two (2) defects within the carcass cavity and/or the cavity opening:

  • Faecal Contamination: Any identifiable material determined to be from the lower gastrointestinal tract (intestines, caecum, cloaca).
  • Ingesta Contamination: Any material determined to be from the upper gastrointestinal tract (crop, gizzard or proventriculus). Dry and localized ingesta covering an area of a dime size or a few isolated grains will not be counted as a defect.

19.4.1.6.8 ES Decision Tree

Click on image for larger view
Evisceration Standards Decision Tree. Description follows.

Description for Evisceration Standards Decision Tree

Step 1: Process Evaluation

With Process Evaluation under Normal Level Sampling, done every hour for 32 or 50 carcasses, there are two possibilities:

  1. Accepted Sample, which leads to Continue Process Evaluation under Normal Level Sampling, which returns you to the beginning of the Process Evaluation.
  2. Rejected Sample: Advise the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and implement corrective measures which leads to the second step, Corrective Measure Evaluation.

Step 2: Corrective Measure Evaluation

With Corrective Measure Evaluation, within 10 minutes (the approximate delay required in order to evaluate the effect of the corrective measures at the Evisceration Standards station) and 32 or 50 carcasses, there are two possibilities:

  1. Accepted Sample: After one (1) accepted sample, discontinue corrective measure evaluations and return to "Process Evaluation"
  2. Rejected Sample (see Note below): Perform a Carcass Dressing Standard Process Evaluation for defect groups Food Safety-1 (faecal contamination) and Food Safety-2 (ingesta contamination). Follow the Carcass Dressing Standard Decision Tree.

Note: after three (3) consecutive rejected samples at Corrective Measure Evaluation:

  • Inform plant manager and Veterinarian in Charge;
  • Veterinarian in Charge and Operator to decide if operations can continue;
  • Assess why previous corrective actions were not effective and develop an action plan.

The Meat Inspection Regulations have precedence over this decision tree.

19.4.1.6.9 ES Defects Log

A separate ES Defects Log shall be used for each species. For abattoirs with more than one shift per day, test results for each shift shall be considered independently because of personnel and supervisor differences and shall be recorded on separate ES Defects Logs.

Carcasses are scored as a defective sample unit for the presence of any distinguishable defect listed in section 19.4.1.6.7, "ES Defects" of this chapter. A carcass showing multiple defects is scored as one defect (e.g., a carcass contaminated with fecal material and with ingesta = one defective carcass).

Defects are scored, a total score is determined and acceptability is determined by comparing the score to the applicable acceptance and rejection numbers.

A copy of the defects log for the ES is included in Annex A of this chapter.

19.4.1.6.10 Process Out of Control – Action to be Taken

Whenever a Process Evaluation is failed the operator shall conduct an investigation to determine the cause and take effective corrective action. The efficiency of the corrective measures is evaluated by performing a Corrective Measure(s) evaluation. Corrective measures and additional corrective measure(s) evaluations are required until one (1) accepted sample demonstrates conformance to the standard. Effective preventative measures must be designed and implemented to prevent a reoccurrence as specified in the written HACCP system of the operator.

If an Evaluation of the corrective measure(s) is rejected, other corrective action must be initiated and the affected product is verified by performing a CDS test on FS-1 (fecal material) and FS-2 (ingesta) ensuring that contaminated carcasses are not entering the chilling system. The decision tree for the CDS shall be followed based on the results of the aforementioned tests.

The Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 has precedence over the ES decision tree (corrective measures can be mandated at any time by the Veterinarian in Charge).

19.4.1.6.11 CFIA Responsibilities

CFIA staff shall ensure that the ES has been implemented by the operator and is being performed according to this section and the operator's written program. This may be accomplished by performing independent verification tests and/or correlation tests with the industry monitor.

An independent test or a correlation test shall to be performed at a minimum of once per half shift/evisceration line. A minimum of two (2) verification tests (one independent and one verification test) shall be conducted and recorded each week by a veterinarian. The records must show that within one month each veterinarian working at the plant has performed at least one test of each kind.

CFIA staff may perform an additional test at any time as an additional assurance of process control or if they feel that standards are not being met for any reason.

Test results may be recorded on a separate ES Log or on the operator's records such that CFIA tests can be distinguished from tests conducted by the operator's ES monitor.

Also, an indication should be present to differentiate the independent CFIA verification tests from the correlation tests with the industry monitor.

19.4.1.6.11.1 Independent CFIA Verification Tests

The CFIA's independent verification of the operator's process evaluation tests shall be performed according to the following parameters:

  • tests shall be performed on each evisceration line, at randomly selected times and according to the prescribed sampling method as indicated in the preceding sub-section 19.4.1.6.5, "Sampling Procedure";
  • when a correlation test is performed, it replaces the independent test scheduled for that half shift;
  • if an independent verification coincides with any of the plant monitor's tests, the inspector shall conduct a correlation test instead of an independent test;
  • the sample size will be the same as that used by the operator;
  • if the sample is rejected, the ES monitor shall perform an immediate Process Evaluation test and, if applicable, initiate any required action as per the decision tree in this section; and
  • the result of each test shall be compared to the operator's monitoring record if the CFIA test result is not in agreement with the operator's tests, the Inspector shall discuss the test results with the (industry) ES monitor and inform the Veterinarian in Charge.

The Decision Tree for ES is to be used by the operator's monitor and for reference by the CFIA.

19.4.1.6.11.2 Correlation Tests

Correlation testing consists of the CFIA conducting an evaluation of a test being performed by the operator's ES monitor according to the following parameters:

  • The test shall be performed on each evisceration line. This frequency may be increased according to the operator's compliance to the monitoring procedures of the ES. When a correlation test is performed, it replaces the independent CFIA test scheduled for that half shift.
  • A member of the inspection staff shall examine the same carcasses at the same time as the industry monitor.
  • The monitor will be evaluated for the sampling method used, correct interpretation of defects, completion of forms, and correct application of the decision tree and the implementation of corrective actions if necessary.

If the CFIA's evaluation demonstrates a deficiency in the industry's evisceration process and/or the monitoring thereof, immediate corrective measure(s) shall be initiated by the operator. The Veterinarian in Charge shall decide if the written procedure is to be reassessed and amended accordingly.

19.4.2 Domesticated Rabbit Slaughter and Dressing Procedures

In general, the slaughter and dressing of rabbit carcasses follow the procedures described for poultry in this chapter. However, particular attention must be given to the following:

  • carcass contamination from dirty hands, knives or pelts must be avoided; and
  • contamination by hair during pelt removal must be avoided; the carcass must be rinsed with water afterward to remove fluffy hair (carcasses must be free of all other types of visible contamination before they are subjected to the water rinse).

19.4.2.1 Receiving of Rabbits

Further to section 19.2.1 of this chapter, if the rabbits received at the slaughtering establishment are not in adequate crates, e.g., crates that ensure humane treatment (temperature, ventilation, proper state of repair and cleanliness), the rabbits must be transferred to appropriate crates belonging to the slaughtering establishment.

Each lot received at the slaughtering establishment should be accompanied by a letter of guarantee provided by the producer and containing information on treatments received, withdrawal periods and length of time of feed withdrawal.

19.4.2.2 Stunning

All animals shall be stunned before slaughter.

For humane treatment purpose, the following methods are prohibited in federal slaughtering establishments:

  • stunning by means of atlanto-axial elongation;
  • rapid decapitation by means of dorsal incision without prior stunning;
  • stunning by means of a blow to the back of the head; and
  • stunning by means of an electric knife applied to the muzzle and/or to the forehead.

19.4.2.3 Hanging

Hanging should be performed once the animal has been stunned. If the chosen stunning method requires live hanging, the rabbits must be individually supported and be stunned immediately after hanging;

Live rabbits can be handled by gripping the neck skin and/or the ears provided that the hind legs are supported to prevent kicking and injury to the animal and the handler.

19.4.2.4 Bleeding

Bleeding time shall not be less than 90 seconds to permit complete bleeding. Bleeding must be performed by means of simultaneous severance of the jugular veins and carotid arteries. Severance can be performed ventrally or dorsally (incision in the atlanto-axial intervertebral space). In both cases, the stick wound and decapitation surface must be removed later.

19.4.2.5 Dressing

Dressing shall be performed without causing contamination by loose hair.

Once bleeding is completed, the three loose paws are cut at the carpal and tarsal joints.

19.4.2.6 Evisceration

  • During the evisceration process, the intestines, bladder, stomach and spleen can be removed before inspection (unless the inspector has given other instructions), as they do not contribute to the inspection process and entail a potential risk of carcass contamination;
  • The kidneys must be decapsulated before they are presented for inspection;
  • The liver can be left attached to the carcass after removal of the gall bladder or be presented separately for inspection; and
  • The hearts, if they are harvested for human consumption, must be incised to remove the clots inside the ventricles.

19.4.2.7 Chilling

Rabbit carcasses and by-products are subject to the same criteria as poultry carcasses and by-products with respect to both temperature and chilling rate. As well, when water is used, no water absorption is permitted under the MIR.

19.4.3 Ritual Slaughter

In ritual slaughter, properly restrained food animals may be slaughtered (bled) without stunning, provided the slaughter is carried out by experienced persons.

Such slaughter shall be performed by a single cut which shall result in rapid, simultaneous and complete severance of the jugular veins and carotid arteries so as to cause rapid unconsciousness and exsanguination of the animal.

19.4.3.1 Halal Slaughter

To be developed

19.4.3.2 Kosher Slaughter

To be developed

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