Chapter 19 – Poultry Inspection Programs
19.8 Poultry Chilling and Freezing Procedures

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19.8.1 Introduction

Methods similar to those used for poultry carcasses may be employed to chill rabbit carcasses in water provided control measures are in place to ensure that, at the time of packaging there is no increase of the hot weight of the carcass as a result of water chilling. Rabbit carcasses may also be hung on racks or chilled in coolers.

19.8.1.1 Regulatory Requirements

There is no provision in the MIR for raw, single-ingredient meat products (e.g., giblets) to retain water as the result of post-evisceration processing in excess of naturally occurring moisture except as provided for dressed poultry carcasses (and therefore by extension, parts from dressed carcasses).

The CFIA intends to amend the MIR to harmonize them with the US Final Rule: Retained Water in Raw, Single-Ingredient Meat and Poultry Products (copied into Annex Y-1, US section, Chapter 11, of the MOP).

As an interim measure, pending amendments to the MIR, giblets, salvaged portions and detached necks may absorb and retain up to 8% added water as a result of post-evisceration contact with water on the condition that the operator develops and implements a written and validated retained water control program as per this section.

19.8.1.2 Definitions

Definitions applicable to refrigeration of poultry products:

Carcass Parts
Refers to parts from dressed carcasses as listed in Chapter 7, "Cutting and labelling requirements of poultry parts".
Salvaged Portions
Refers to edible poultry harvested as part of salvaging operations, e.g., wings, wing drumettes, skinless breast fillets, legs, drumsticks and thighs.
Raw Single Ingredient Meat Product
Includes dressed carcasses, parts of dressed carcasses, salvaged portions, giblets (livers, hearts, and gizzards), ground poultry, finely textured poultry and mechanically separated poultry, either fresh or frozen.

19.8.2 Water Chilling

19.8.2.1 Salt Addition to Water or Ice

In chilling, no objection will be made to the addition of common salt to the ice or chill water, provided this is declared on the label of the finished product. The immediate container or package for carcasses, parts or portions so chilled must bear the statement: "Turkeys (chicken, etc.) chilled in ice with salt added" or words of similar meaning.

19.8.2.2 Chilling in Tanks

Where conventional tank chilling is used, care must be taken to ensure that:

  • sufficient overflow of water is provided to ensure the removal of extraneous matter prior to final icing; and
  • poultry products are not kept in the chilling water for more than 24 hours (if kept in tanks for more than 24 hours, continuous drainage is required).

19.8.2.3 Make-up Water Required for Water Immersion Chillers

Continuous chilling systems are to be provided with a flow-meter, to measure total water used. The volume of the initial potable water and ice in the chilling system, plus subsequent amounts added, shall equate to not less than:

  • L per carcass weighing = 2.5 kg;
  • 2.75 L per carcass weighing > 2.5 kg and = 6.5 kg; and
  • 3.5 L per carcass weighing > 6.5 kg.
  • Water used in the inside/outside carcass washer may be credited as part of the preceding water volumes provided that a flow-meter, to measure total, and a pressure gauge, is installed on the inside/outside carcass washer.

19.8.2.4 Chilling Time/Temperature Requirements for Water Immersion Chillers

The MIR define refrigerate as "… to lower the temperature of a meat product to, and to maintain the temperature at, 4°C or lower, but does not include to freeze;"

All edible poultry products from live birds which are slaughtered and eviscerated in a registered establishment using water tanks in combination or not with air chilling shall be chilled as part of a continuous chilling process immediately after evisceration.

As part of the operator's HACCP system, chilling protocols for the various classes of birds and for the various weight classes processed within the establishment must be initially validated according to protocols accepted by the Veterinarian in Charge.

19.8.2.4.1 Dressed Poultry Carcasses and Parts

Immediately following evisceration and washing, all dressed poultry carcasses shall be chilled according to the following table:

Weight of Dressed Poultry Carcasses Initial Time (hours) to Reach ≤ 14°C Table Note 19 Additional Time (hours) to Reach ≤ 6°C Table Note 19 Additional Time (hours) to Reach ≤ 4°C Table Note 19
Under 1.8 kg 2 2 4
1.8 kg to 3.6 kg 2 4 4
3.6 kg to 5 kg 2 6 4
kg to 7 kg 2 8 4
kg to 12 kg 2 10 4
Over 12 kg 2 Table Note 20 10 6

Table Notes

Table Note 19

internal temperature

Return to table note 19  referrer

Table Note 20

in this weight category, the temperature to reach within the first 2 hours is ≤ 16°C.

Return to table note 20  referrer

If a deviation occurs, the product shall continue the chilling process and either be cooked or kept fresh. If product will be kept fresh, the shelf life/best before date must be re-evaluated and labelled accordingly. If the violation results in spoilage of the product then it must be disposed of as inedible product.

As part of a CFIA recognized HACCP system, the following may be implemented provided the process is initially validated according to a protocol accepted by the Veterinarian in Charge:

  • Alternative times for chilling poultry carcasses and portions thereof to 4°C or lower; and/or,
  • Packaging of poultry carcasses and portions before an internal temperature of 4°C is reached.

19.8.2.4.2 Giblets, Detached Necks and Salvaged Portions

Giblets, parts of dressed carcasses harvested during the dressing procedures including detached necks and salvaged portions shall be chilled to 4°C or lower within two hours after evisceration. However, salvaged turkey breasts, breast fillets, legs, drumsticks and thighs shall be chilled to 4°C or lower within four hours after evisceration.

19.8.2.4.3 Shipping of Carcasses not being Completely Chilled

Dressed poultry carcasses, prior to being chilled to an internal temperature of 4°C, may be shipped from a registered establishment to another registered establishment for completion of chilling provided that:

  • Both establishments operate under a HACCP system which includes the chilling of such product;
  • The chilling process is continuous, including during transport, and achieves a deep muscle internal temperature of 4°C within the time indicated above;
  • Product is not shipped prior to achieving a surface temperature of 7°C or lower; and
  • The chilling process results in chilled product which complies with the Pathogen Reduction Program requirements as contained within the section on the US in Chapter 11, Exports, of the MOP.

19.8.3 Retained Water Control Programs

19.8.3.1 General Requirements

Operators are to write and validate a retained water control protocol for water which is absorbed and retained as a result of post-evisceration contact with water, for all raw single-ingredient poultry products including dressed carcasses, parts of dressed carcasses including detached necks, salvaged portions and giblets.

The method chosen in calculating water absorption and retention shall be reproducible and verifiable.

Note: Please note that the same testing method used for validating the proposed retained water control protocols shall be used for ongoing testing of the resulting retained water control programs.

Operators may submit a proposed alternative Statistical Process Control (SPC) program to the Veterinarian in Charge to be forwarded to the area poultry inspection program specialist and then to the Chief, Poultry Inspection Programs, CFIA , Ottawa, for an equivalency determination.

19.8.3.1.1 Retained Water Declarations

Prepackaged giblets, shipping containers for bulk packed giblets and giblets contained within carcasses must be labeled with a retained water declaration as part of the product name. For carcasses containing giblets, the declaration must clearly refer to the giblets or must be truthful for both the carcass and the giblets. Further information on the labelling of retained water declarations is contained in Chapter 7 of the MOP.

A statement may be included on the label to indicate that no water has been absorbed and retained when:

  • product has not been exposed to a post-evisceration process that adds water, or
  • the operator has data or information that establishes that the post-evisceration processes do not add water to the product.

However, the test data and a copy of the corresponding carcass washing and chilling procedures shall be maintained on file and be copied to the Veterinarian in Charge.

19.8.3.1.2 Exempted Products and Processes

The following are products and processes that are exempted from a retained water control program:

  • Multi-ingredient poultry products such as basted turkey carcasses, with/without giblets,and giblets within a basted turkey carcass.
  • Raw Kosher products (treated with salt and water in accordance with Judaic law) (refer to Chapter 7 of the MOP); maximum amount of absorbed and retained water permitted by the MIR compliance shall be demonstrated by adhering to a retained water control program as described in this chapter for raw single-ingredient poultry products.
  • An operator has documentation proving that products do not retain water as a result of post-evisceration contact with water; documents are filed on-site and copied to the Veterinarian or Inspector in Charge.

The following are examples of post evisceration processes involving the use of water that would not require subject products to be processed under a retained water control program:

  • flushing gizzards and chitterlings to remove digestive tract contents;
  • removing the lining from gizzards, the gall bladder from livers, and the pericardial sac from hearts;
  • scalding of paws or feet;
  • washing with water to remove excess blood, e.g., washing hearts, livers, gizzards, paws and feet; and
  • washing with water to remove the contents within oral cavities and nasal passages in heads for head and feet-on poultry.

19.8.3.1.3 Non Exempted Products and Processes

Crust frozen or ice-glazed poultry carcasses are subject to the requirement for a retained water declaration unless they are basted.

The following are examples of post evisceration processes involving the use of water with or without a microbial control agent that would require the subject poultry products to be processed under a retained water control program:

  • post-evisceration washing, including on-line reprocessing systems;
  • transportation in water within stainless steel pipes;
  • water or ice chilling;
  • postchill spraying;
  • thawing; and
  • iced necks and backs processed through an advanced meat recovery or mechanical deboning equipment.

Note: On a case-by-case basis, the Veterinarian or Inspector in Charge, in consultation with his or her Regional Veterinary Officer and the Area Poultry Inspection Program Network Team Specialist will evaluate other post evisceration processes involving the use of water to determine whether the resulting products require a retained water control program.

19.8.3.1.4 Programs Required Per Species, Class and Age of Poultry

In this section, the word "carcass" is interchangeable with other raw-single ingredient poultry products such as livers, hearts, gizzards, detached necks, and salvaged portions such as breasts, breast fillets, wings, legs, thighs and drum sticks.

A retained water control program is required for:

  • carcasses from each species and class of poultry listed in the regulations and age category; (e.g., young and mature poultry)
  • each component of edible giblets (livers, hearts and gizzards);
  • for detached necks; and
  • for each type of salvaged portion such as breasts, breast fillets, wings, legs, thighs and drum sticks.

The same retained water control program may be used for giblets, salvaged portions and detached necks from all three classes of turkeys listed in the regulations provided that:

  • the same processes and equipment are used;
  • the program scope includes product from all three classes; and
  • product from the three classes is included during the validation testing.

However, a separate validation test must be performed for each poultry product from each of the three classes of turkeys, e.g., separate validation tests for livers, another set of tests for hearts, a third set of tests for detached necks, a fourth set for salvaged breast filets, etc. The same retained water control program may be used for giblets, salvaged portions and detached necks from both chicken broilers and chicken roasters (but requires two separate validation tests, e.g., for livers from chicken broilers and for livers from chicken roasters, etc.).

19.8.3.1.5 Carcasses with Low Water Retention

No further ongoing testing is required by the operator to monitor retained water for dressed carcasses, as shipped or when packaged as portions, if the initial validation data (50 carcass test as described later in this subsection) indicates that:

  • the average percentage weight increase for the group of 50 sampled carcasses is less than half that permitted by the regulations; and
  • none of the individual carcass weight increases exceeds that permitted by the regulations.

However, the initial 50 carcass validation test for retained water must be repeated at least once each year to verify that the above two listed conditions are still being met. Records of this annual verification must be kept on file and be copied to the Veterinarian in Charge.

19.8.3.2 Writing a Water Retention Control Program

In this section, the word "carcass" is interchangeable with other raw single-ingredient poultry products such as livers, hearts, gizzards, detached necks, and salvaged portions such as breasts, breast fillets, wings, legs, thighs and drum sticks.

19.8.3.2.1 Elements of a Written Retained Water Control Program

The proposed retained water control protocol is to be comprised of the following nine elements and include information for each element as follows:

1. Purpose statement

The primary purpose is to determine the amount or percentage of retained water that is unavoidable while achieving compliance with the time/temperature chilling requirements as contained within this chapter.

Indicate which species or classes of poultry, and list all products, which are covered by the protocol.

2. Type of washing and chilling system used by the operator

Describe any post-evisceration washing or chilling/cooling processes that affect the water retention levels. Describe the chiller types, e.g., the drag-through, the screw type, the paddle type and the rocker-arm type, identified by the mechanism used to transport the carcasses through the chiller or to agitate the water in the chiller.

3. Configuration and any modifications of the chiller/cooling system components

Describe the chiller/cooling system configurations and any modifications of the chiller system components including the number and type of chillers/coolers in a series, arrangements of the chilling/cooling system components, and the number of evisceration lines feeding into a chiller/cooling system. Accurately describe the purpose and type of equipment used if there is a pre-chilling/cooling step in the process. Describe any mechanical or design changes to the chilling/cooling equipment.

4. Special features in the chilling/cooling process

Describe any special features in the chilling/cooling process, length and velocity of the dripping line, and total time allowed for dripping. Explain any special apparatus, such as a mechanism for removing excessive water from chilled carcasses.

5. Description of variable factors in the chilling /cooling system

Describe the variable factors that affect water absorption and retention. Such factors include:

  • scalding temperature;
  • pressure and amount of buffeting applied to the carcasses by the feather removal machinery and its effect on loosening the skin;
  • method used for opening the carcass for evisceration;
  • temperature of the pre-chiller;
  • temperature of the chiller;
  • agitation including air agitation if used; and
  • time in the chiller water.

Identify the settings of all the key points. Key points refer to those operational settings which affect added and retained water and which could be modified during a work shift, e.g., water pressure within the inside/outside carcass washer, transit time and temperature for water chillers, chain speed and exposure time to water sprays within the air chiller, time on the drip line, whether cut-up and pre-packaged as parts.

6. Standards to be met by the chilling system

The chilling/cooling system must be designed and operated so as to comply with the applicable time/temperature requirements listed in this Chapter for reducing the deep internal muscle temperature down to 4°C.

7. Testing methods to be employed

Describe testing methods used, both for measuring water absorption and retention at various chilling equipment settings and chilling time-and-temperature combinations. The method for calculating water absorption and retention must be reproducible and statistically verifiable. The sample collection locations, number of samples, type of samples, sampling time period, whether carcasses will be chilled with/without necks, type of testing or measurement e.g., weighing procedures, and test results are to be included.

The trials shall represent processing procedures that can be maintained in the establishment.

8. Reporting of data and evaluation of results

Explain how data obtained are to be reported and summarized. Examples of reported information include, but are not limited to, the number of sample replicates, and the calculation or formula used to determine the level of water retention.

9. Conclusions

Explain what the data demonstrate, the conclusions reached, and how the conclusions were reached. Include the amount of retained water which is to be declared on the labels of the packaged products. Indicate how the operator will maintain compliance with regulatory requirements and describe examples of corrective action.

Further information on writing and validating retained water protocols is contained in Annex Y, US section, Chapter 11, of the MOP.

19.8.3.3 Validation of the Program

19.8.3.3.1 Sampling Procedure for Validating a Retained Water Protocol

Physical water pick-up test

A minimum of 50 whole untrimmed (Grade A) poultry carcasses are to be randomly selected, identified and weighed individually. Each carcass shall be weighed twice and the weights recorded. The initial weight of each carcass is determined by weighing it prior to the first inside-outside carcass washer after inspection. The final weight is determined by weighing the same carcass after the normal chilling and drainage time prior to packaging as a whole carcass (or as parts if the operator never packages any whole carcasses).

A data collection sheet shall contain the following:

  • The percentage weight increase or decease for each carcass corresponding to the initial and final weights; and
  • The average weight increase or decrease for the entire group of 50 carcasses shall be calculated and entered;

The completed data collection sheet shall then be attached to the proposed retained water control program to serve as part of the validation data.

Giblets, detached necks and salvaged portions

A minimum of 50 e.g., hearts, livers, or skinless breasts, etc. may be weighed as a bulk sample to obtain both the initial weight and the final weight. The post-chilling bulk sample shall contain the same number of units as the initial sample and be collected from the same lot as used for the initial weight.

Oven drying laboratory method

Initially the operator needs to determine what is the natural level of water as contained within the carcass parts or giblets or salvaged portions and to determine the amount of water which must be declared. To accomplish this, the operator collects a sample comprised of five:

  • livers, hearts or gizzards (after removal of the pericardial sac or the gall bladder or the gizzard contents and mucosa, as applicable); or
  • carcass parts (e.g., detached necks, skin less breast fillets, bone-in skin-on or skinless leg quarters or thighs, etc.); or
  • salvaged portions (e.g., wings, breast fillets or legs, etc.)

The products listed above shall be from the same lot and collected prior to contact with water or ice as used to transport or chill the sampled product.

A similar group of five products is collected after chilling and drainage, (including drainage which occurs during cut-up and boning), immediately prior to packaging from the same lot. Samples must be packaged so as to prevent moisture loss during storage and transport to the lab.

Note: In the case of gizzards, gizzard pieces approximating the weight of five whole ready-to-chill gizzards may be used rather than whole gizzards. At the lab, pre-chill samples are dry oven tested for water content. A similar test is performed on the post-chill sample from the same lot. The two samples are recorded and the corresponding net difference is reported as the amount of water which was absorbed and retained by the lot based on paired sampling.

The results from fifty (50) paired samples collected from 50 consecutive lots of poultry are used to determine the:

  • percentage of retained water to be declared on the packaged product;
  • natural amount of water contained by the e.g., hearts, livers, giblets, skinless breasts or bone-in leg quarters, etc.

Paired sampling is not required thereafter since the amount of absorbed and retained water in packaged product can be based on the natural moisture level as was determined using the 50 paired samples as described above.

19.8.3.3.2 Assessing the Results of Validation Tests

Operations for the washing, chilling and drainage of carcasses are to be deemed to be in compliance with the regulations if:

Physical water pick-up tests

For water chilling:

  • the average weight increase (or decrease) of the group of 50 carcasses (or parts from the 50 carcasses) does not exceed the stipulated regulatory maximum in section 25 of the MIR ; and
  • no more than six carcasses exceed the aforementioned regulatory maximum plus 20% (e.g., for chicken carcasses which are prepackaged and are permitted to retain a maximum of 8% absorbed and retained water, no more than six carcasses from the group of 50 sampled carcasses may exceed 9.6%.)

For air chilling:

  • the average weight increase for the 50 carcasses shall not exceed 0.0%;
  • a maximum of 25 individual carcasses from the group of 50 sampled carcasses may have an increase exceeding 0.0% (to account for scale variability); and
  • no individual carcass shall exceed 2.0% absorbed and retained water.

For the oven drying laboratory method:

  • a maximum of 6 out of the 50 paired samples may exceed the amount of water declared plus 20%, e.g., to declare "Up to 8% water added"; and
  • no more than 6 of the 50 samples may exceed (8 plus 20% of 8 which is 1.6%) or 9.6% similar to the pass/fail criteria.

19.8.3.4 On-going Testing Under an Approved Retained Water Control Program

Whichever method was used for validation testing (physical water pick-up tests or dry oven laboratory test method) shall be used for ongoing testing. Procedures shall be monitored on an on-going basis and the settings of the key points shall be recorded at minimum on an hourly basis by a designated plant employee as part of the HACCP system. Key points refer to those settings which could be modified during a work shift and affect the % of water absorbed and retained in the chilled carcasses. Other settings may only be checked once at the beginning of each shift.

19.8.3.4.1 Giblets, Detached Necks and Salvaged Portions

Validation test results for poultry giblets, detached necks and salvaged portions (from all the classes listed in the MIR ) shall be assessed to determine which giblet, detached neck or salvaged portion absorbed and retained the maximum percentage of water. Ongoing testing is limited to the giblet or detached neck or salvaged portion with the highest % of absorbed and retained water.

19.8.3.4.1.1 Sampling
Physical water pick-up tests

A minimum of 50 e.g., livers should be used for ongoing testing. If a test is failed, a larger sample size is recommended for subsequent tests.

Oven drying laboratory test method

Paired sampling is no longer required for ongoing testing. A single group of five e.g., livers, wings or detached necks is required for each post-validation test for retained water (rather than the sample size specified in the subsequent table).

However, one skin-on or skinless breast is a sufficient sample size for poultry breasts due to their extremely low level of retained water and their high value.

19.8.3.4.1.2 Switching Rules

Initially, for the giblet, salvaged portion or detached neck with the highest amount of absorbed and retained water, one test is required per production shift ("1/shift"). Results shall be assessed based on the average % of absorbed and retained water and may not exceed 8%.

  • If 10 consecutive "once/shift" tests pass, the testing frequency may be reduced to once per 5 consecutive production
  • If 10 consecutive "once/5 shifts" tests are passed, then the testing frequency may be further reduced to once per 20 consecutive production
  • If 10 consecutive "once/20 shifts" tests are passed, testing frequency may be decreased to once per 3 months (quarterly testing).
19.8.3.4.1.3 Corrective Actions

If a test indicates greater than 8% absorbed and retained water, then the next available lot shall be tested. If results again exceed 8%, then:

  • the affected product, and all subsequent product shall be segregated and be either drained until below 8%; or
  • be used in processed product which permits water as an added ingredient; or
  • be discarded as inedible material, and
  • the operator must then conduct an investigation to determine the probable cause and take effective corrective action. The written retained water control program(s) shall be amended if operational parameters have changed. All written retained water control programs for giblets, detached necks, and salvaged portions, which indicated greater than 4% absorbed and retained water shall then be (re)validated.

19.8.3.4.2 Whole Carcasses

In the definition of the chilling procedure as contained within the validated program, if the transit time includes periods when the carcasses are not emptied from the chillers during either the breaks or meal periods, then the chilling system may be halted during these periods. But if the chilling procedures do not take into consideration the breaks and/or meal periods, then the chilling system shall be kept operating allowing the tanks to be normally emptied during these periods.

Note: The operator may choose to use the oven drying laboratory test method as described at the end of Annex Y-1, US section, Chapter 11 of the MOP.

19.8.3.4.2.1 Sampling Plan

The sampling plan used is based on the ISO sampling plan, ISO sampling plan 2859-1, Special Inspection level S-4.

19.8.3.4.2.2 Lot Selection and Size

The size of each lot is set at a maximum of 10,000 carcasses. A separate lot is required for each species and class of poultry listed in the MIR .

Prior to the beginning of operations, the operator shall:

  • divide a single day's production into lots;
  • determine the number of lots to be tested during a day's production using the table below;
  • randomly determine which lots will be tested so that each lot has an equal chance of being tested; and
  • weigh a sample of carcasses selected from each lot.

Example: 140 chicken (< 3.0 kg) carcasses/minute for 8 hours equals 67, 200 carcasses. Therefore production would be divided into 6 lots of 10,000 carcasses plus a seventh lot of 7,200 carcasses.

19.8.3.4.2.3 Number of Lots to be Sampled and Sample Size
Number of lots of 10,000 carcasses each to be sampled by production volume
Number of carcasses slaughtered per shift Number of lots of 10,000 carcasses Number of lots to be sampled per shift by type of Inspection
Reduced Sampling of 13 carcasses/lot Normal Sampling of 32 carcasses/lot Tightened Sampling of 32 carcasses/lot
1 - 40,000 1 - 4 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 1 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
40,001 - 80,000 5 - 8 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 2 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
80,001 - 120,000 9 - 12 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 3 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
120,001 - 160,000 13 - 16 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 4 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
160,001 - 200,000 17 - 20 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 5 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
200,001 - 240,000 21 - 24 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 6 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
240,001 - 280,000 25 - 28 Once per 1, 5 or 20 consecutive production shifts as per decision tree in this subsection 7 Immediate retest, i.e. test next available lot after completion of a retained water control test
19.8.3.4.2.4 Selection and Weighing of Carcasses

If sufficient carcasses cannot be obtained from a sample group to determine the final weight, then the data for that lot shall be discarded and be replaced by sampling the next available lot.

The carcasses, making up the sample for each lot, must be representative for the lot.

Carcasses to be weighed shall be selected prior to the first inside-outside carcass washer after inspection or detection, referred to as the initial weight, and be identified. Carcasses shall be weighed individually. Each initial carcass weight shall be recorded. The initial carcass weights shall be totalled.

At a predetermined point, as identified by the operator, after the normal chilling and drainage time, the identified carcasses shall be weighed a second time to determine their final weight. Each final weight shall be recorded such that the final weight corresponds to the initial weight on the operator's report. The final carcass weights from a sample shall be totalled and recorded.

Whenever the final carcass weight exceeds the corresponding initial weight, the difference shall be calculated as a percentage of the initial weight and be recorded adjacent to the corresponding final weight.

19.8.3.4.2.5 Calculating the Percentage Weight Gain or Loss

Percentages shall be calculated based on the initial weight for all the carcasses as follow:

(Final weight − Initial weight) × 100 ÷ Initial weight = Retention%

19.8.3.4.2.6 Lot Acceptance/Rejection
Physical water pick-up tests
Accept and Reject Numbers, AQL of 10, Single Sampling Plans
Inspection Level Sample Size Accept Number Reject Number
Reduced 13 5 6
Normal 32 7 8
Tightened 32 5 6

For carcasses chilled in water:

  • The average weight increase (or decrease) of the group of sampled carcasses does not exceed the stipulated regulatory maximum in the regulations
  • The number of weighed carcasses with a net weight increase at or above the regulatory maximum plus 20% is equal to or less than the accept number for the corresponding inspection level (normal, reduced or tightened) in the preceding table, the lot is accepted.
  • If the number of carcasses with a net water absorption and retention at or above the maximum specified in the regulations plus 20% (for inherent biological, processing and measurement variability) is greater than the accept number but less than the reject number, accept the lot but switch to normal inspection for the next test.

For carcasses labelled as "air chilled":

  • A lot is assessed to be in or out of compliance with the retained water control requirements for air chilled carcasses based on the total number of (individual) carcasses with a net water absorption and retention at or above 0.5%; and
  • If the number of weighed carcasses with a net water absorption and retention at or above 0.5% is equal to or less than the accept number for the corresponding inspection level (normal, reduced or tightened) in the preceding table, the lot is accepted.
  • For reduced sampling, if the number of carcasses with a net water absorption and retention at or above 0.5% is greater than the accept number but less than the reject number, accept the lot but switch to normal inspection for the next test.
Oven drying laboratory test method

The water content for the poultry product (collected immediately prior to packaging) indicated on the lab report is compared to the amount of naturally occurring moisture in the applicable raw single-ingredient poultry product as determined during the initial series of validation tests.

After subtracting the natural moisture content from the water level on the lab report, the remaining water, which is the amount of absorbed and retained water, must not exceed that which is declared on the product label plus an additional 20% (to compensate for inherent biological, processing and measurement variability).

19.8.3.4.2.7 Switching Rules

Sampling begins at the normal rate. Once 10 consecutive sample groups (or lots) are shown to be in compliance, the operator qualifies for Reduced Inspection with a minimum of one test per production shift.

If an additional 10 consecutive lots are accepted under Reduced Inspection, the sampling frequency may be reduced even further to one lot per 5 consecutive production shifts.

If an additional 10 consecutive lots are accepted under Reduced Inspection, the sampling frequency may be reduced even further, to one lot per 20 consecutive production shifts.

Thereafter, the operator may group all classes of poultry carcasses that qualify for testing at the reduced frequency of once per 20 consecutive production shifts. Only the class of poultry with the highest relative level of absorbed and retained water (closest to the maximum % permitted) needs to be tested. However, each retained water control protocol needs to be revalidated each year.

If the reject number is reached or exceeded, the lot is rejected. If a lot is rejected, the chilling process may be out of control. The Veterinarian in Charge or an inspector is to be notified, the operator shall determine the probable cause, and then take immediate corrective action as indicated within the operator's retained water control program.

Non compliant product

Raw single-ingredient meat products containing absorbed and retained water above that permitted by the MIR may be:

  • handled as inedible material (e.g., giblets for animal food); or
  • drained until in compliance;
  • cut up and/or skinned and/or boned out (provided the packaged product is in compliance); or
  • used in processed meat products (e.g., basted turkey carcasses), provided that the operators have implemented a control program acceptable to the CFIA , (at both the slaughtering and the processing establishment) ensuring that all non complaint product is used only in processed product which may contain water as an added ingredient.
19.8.3.4.2.8 Decision Tree for Retained Water Control Program

Click on image for larger view
Decision Tree for Retained Water Control Program. Description follows.

Description for Decision Tree for Retained Water Control Program

The Decision Tree for Retained Water Control Program starts with box #1, Normal Inspection (A test at normal inspection may be performed at any time as an additional assurance of process control and may be requested by the operator or the inspection staff.): stay in Normal Inspection unless box #2 or #5 applies. This has two possibilities:

  1. Box #2: Ten (10) consecutive sample groups (or lots) accepted under Normal Inspection. - Go to box #3
  2. Box #5: Two out of five consecutive sample groups not accepted:
    • Notify Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspection staff.
    • Determine probable cause.
    • Take immediate corrective action.
    • Test the next available lot thereafter at Tightened Inspection.
    - Go to box #6

Box #3 Reduced Inspection (A test at normal inspection may be performed at any time as an additional assurance of process control and may be requested by the operator or the inspection staff.)
If the sample group is accepted, remain in box #3.
If 10 consecutive sample groups are accepted, decrease testing frequency to once per shift. If 10 more consecutive sample groups are accepted, decrease testing frequency to once per 5 consecutive production shifts. If 10 more consecutive sample groups are accepted, decrease the testing frequency to once per 20 consecutive production shifts.
If at any time two (2) consecutive samples are not accepted, go to box #4

Box #4 Acceptance Number exceeded:
Determine the probable cause, take immediate corrective action, and test the next available lot thereafter at Normal Inspection.
- Go to box #1

Box #6 Tightened Inspection
If the sample group is accepted, go to box #7.
If the sample group is rejected, go to box # 8.

Box #6 has two possibilities:

  1. Box #7 Group accepted:
    Continue on Tightened Inspection until five (5) consecutive sample groups are accepted on Tightened Inspection.
    If less than 5 consecutive sample groups are accepted, remain in tightened mode, go to box #6
    If five (5) consecutive sample groups are accepted, return to normal inspection, go to box #1
  2. Box #8 Sample group not accepted:
    Notify the Veterinarian in Charge
    Segregate the product back to the last lot which was accepted
    • If the product was water chilled, detain the segregated product until it complies with the Meat Inspection Regulations.
      Corrective actions.
      Retest and go to box #6
      After a maximum of 3 consecutive failed tests on Tightened Inspection, the Veterinarian in Charge shall decide whether the retained water protocol must be amended and revalidated.
    • If the product was air chilled, the segregated product cannot be labelled "air chilled".
      Corrective actions.
      Retest and go to box #6
      After a maximum of 3 consecutive failed tests on Tightened Inspection, the Veterinarian in Charge is to decide whether to suspend the labelling of product with the term "air chilled".

The Meat Inspection Regulations have precedence over this decision tree

19.8.3.5 Amending Approved Retained Water Control Programs

The operator may establish or change a plant specific retained water control program at any time provided it results in the production of a product in compliance with the MIR, the written procedure is amended and validated, and the new proposed protocol is approved by the Veterinarian in Charge.

19.8.4 Air-Chilled Poultry Products

"Air Chilled" is commonly used to describe poultry and poultry cuts which, after the inside/outside carcass washer step, have been chilled with cold air. Water sprays or misting devices are generally used during air chilling processes to prevent skin dehydration.

19.8.4.1 Air Chilling Time Requirements

Unlike water chilling, there are no time requirements to meet the internal temperature of 4°C or lower as long as the chilling process is continuous and air chill room temperature is maintained at 4°C or lower.

However, the CFIA would not object if the chilling process is momentarily interrupted to either individually or bulk pack and/or tie carcasses as long as:

  • the product must have reached 10°C or less
  • the interruption must not result in temperature increase of the carcasses
  • the chilling protocol be validated to the satisfaction of the Veterinarian in Charge

19.8.4.2 Labelling and Advertising Claims

Refer to Chapter 7 of the MOP for the use of phrases or claims such as "air chilled" and "no water added".

19.8.4.2.1 Requirements of the Term "Air Chilled"

Operators of slaughtering and processing establishments wishing to label poultry products with the term "air chilled" shall have a written procedure, signed off by the Veterinarian in Charge, which assures that only eligible product (refer to the next subsection) is labelled with the claim "air chilled" or similar phrases.

Use of the term "air chilled" or similar phrases shall be restricted to carcasses or portions which are chilled:

  • predominantly by means of cold air with/without water sprays or mists which apply the minimum water necessary so as to prevent excessive dehydration of the skin ; and /or
  • are individually frozen or crust frozen by means of nitrogen or carbon dioxide gas; and
  • the operator demonstrates through a written quality control program and validation data that there is no net increase in the weight of the carcasses as a result of post evisceration washing, chilling and drainage.

19.8.5 Freezing

19.8.5.1 Crust Freezing

Rapid chilling methods, for poultry carcasses or parts, which temporarily freeze a thin outer layer of skin and muscle (usually 3 to 4 mm) may be allowed under the following conditions:

  • the operator must submit to the Veterinarian in Charge a written documented protocol for each class of poultry processed outlining:
    • the product identification and segregation into lots;
    • the packaging
    • the type and temperature of the
    • the duration of exposure to sub-freezing temperatures;
    • the time period and location for the equilibrium of internal and external product temperatures such that an internal temperature is between 4°C and -2°C;
  • the surface crusting must disappear within 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of completing the crust freezing process;
  • the process shall be monitored, by a designated plant employee, a minimum of every two (2) hours for crust disappearance and internal product temperature;
  • the product shall be labelled as either "previously frozen" or "frozen" whenever crust disappearance takes more than 150 minutes; and
  • records demonstrating compliance with all the above listed requirements shall be stored at the establishment for at least one year.

19.8.5.2 Liquid Freezing

Where liquid immersion or spray freezing is employed, poultry shall be packaged to prevent contact with the refrigerant. Poultry carcasses or portions contaminated with refrigerant are considered adulterated and shall be condemned, except where the contamination with refrigerant is slight and limited to the surface areas. In such cases, the protective bag or wrap shall be immediately removed and the carcass or portions decontaminated to the satisfaction of the VIC

An acceptable colouring agent shall be used in immersion refrigerants to make the detection of leakers easier. As an example, operators may use one of the colouring agents listed in Table III under section B.16.100 of the Food and Drug Regulations, page 211, for example beta-carotene, paprika extract, beet red or caramel. Please refer to Chapter 3.6, Pre-requisite Programs, for additional information on the requirements for acceptable non-food chemical products.

Poultry carcasses may be packaged in either clear or opaque bags for immersion in liquid refrigerant freezers. Operators are to monitor such freezing operations according to the following protocol:

  • All packaged carcasses should be verified by a designated plant employee after the shrink tunnel and before the immersion freezer for bag and clip integrity.
  • Process action, for the purposes of this protocol, is defined as tagging and segregating all products back to the time of the last satisfactory lot test, re-inspection of each tagged carcass for evidence of adulteration and/or loss of package integrity, releasing satisfactory packages and the removal of refrigerant and repackaging of satisfactory carcasses.
  • Operators commence testing at the Normal Inspection Level. Thereafter, subsequent testing for the next shift continues at the same level as occurred at the end of the previous shift except that for shifts ending under process action, operators may elect to test at the Normal Inspection Level for the subsequent shift.
  • A unit refers to a bagged poultry carcass.
  • Before the start of each shift, operators must randomly select hourly subgroup test times for each production hour and record these times before product reaches the sampling location.
  • Samples are to be randomly selected at the exit chute of the immersion freezer.
  • Each sample should be visually and manually examined. The visual verification will verify the bag integrity, and for opaque bags, a mandatory palpation shall be made to detect soft spots indicative of the presence of coolant liquid.

Inspection staff is to verify the implementation and ongoing application of this protocol (minimum once per half shift). The inspection verification will consist of reviewing plant records and once per day, observing one test as performed by the designated plant employee.

Table for sample, sizes and acceptance/rejection levels for poultry carcasses packaged in plastic bags and crust frozen by immersion within liquid refrigerant
ISO /2859-1 Single Sampling Plans
Inspection Type Line Speed Table Note 21 Code Letter Sample Size Table Note 22 Acceptance Quality Limits Table Note 23
Accepted
Acceptance Quality Limits Table Note 23
Rejected
Normal Inspection 0-3,200 E 13 0 1
Normal Inspection 3,201-10,000 F 20 0 1
Retest Inspection 0-3,200 G 32 1 2
Retest Inspection 3,201-10,000 H 50 1 2
Reduced Inspection 0-3,200 E 5 0 1
Reduced Inspection 3,201-10,000 F 8 0 1
Tightened Inspection 0-3,200 F 20 0 1
Tightened Inspection 3,201-10,000 G 32 0 1

Table Notes

Table Note 21

Carcasses/hour

Return to table note 21  referrer

Table Note 22

Numbers of carcasses or units to be selected

Return to table note 22  referrer

Table Note 23

Number of defective packages (i.e., containing refrigerant)

Return to table note 23  referrer

19.8.5.2.1 Flow Chart for Inspection Levels for Bagged Poultry Carcasses Crust Frozen by Immersion in Liquid Refrigerant

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Flow Chart for Inspection Levels for Bagged Poultry Carcasses Crust Frozen by Immersion in Liquid Refrigerant. Description follows.

Description for Flow Chart for Inspection Levels for Bagged Poultry Carcasses Crust Frozen by Immersion in Liquid Refrigerant

The Flow Chart for Bagged Poultry Carcasses Crust Frozen by Immersion in Liquid Refrigerant with Normal Inspection Level leads to three possibilities:

  1. The sample is accepted and the number of accepted lots in the last 10 consecutive lots is less than 10, which leads to continue sampling at Normal Inspection level.
  2. The sample is accepted and the number of accepted lots in the last 10 consecutive lots is equal to 10, which leads to switching to Reduced Inspection level.
  3. The sample is rejected, which leads to an immediate retest.
    1. If the immediate retest is accepted, continue sampling at Normal Inspection level.
    2. If the immediate retest is rejected, switch to Process Action and Tightened Inspection Level.

The Reduced Inspection Level has two possibilities:

  1. The sample is accepted, which leads to continuing sampling at Reduced Inspection level.
  2. The sample is rejected, which leads to an immediate retest.
    1. If the immediate retest is accepted, continue sampling at Reduced Inspection level
    2. If the immediate retest is rejected, switch to Process Action and Tightened Inspection Level.

The Process Action and Tightened Inspection Level have two possibilities:

  1. The sample is accepted, which leads to switching sampling at Normal Inspection level.
  2. The sample is rejected, which leads to continuing sampling at Process Action and Tightened Inspection Level.

The Meat Inspection Regulations have precedence over this decision tree.

19.8.6 Thawing Poultry in Water

When ready-to-cook poultry is thawed in water, the thawing practices and procedures shall be such as will prevent the product from becoming adulterated by the absorption of moisture. Such poultry shall be thawed by one of the following methods:

  • in continuous running tap water of sufficient volume and for such limited time as is necessary for thawing. The thawing medium shall not exceed a temperature of 21°C;
  • in re-circulated water, maintained at a temperature not in excess of 10°C, for such limited time as is necessary for thawing;
  • the placing of frozen ready-to-cook poultry into cooking kettles, without prior thawing, is permitted only when a representative sample of the entire lot has been thawed and found to be sound and unadulterated. Thawing practices and procedures shall result in no net gain in weight over the frozen weight, when whole carcasses or parts thereof are thawed for repackaging. Thawed poultry may be held in tanks of crushed ice with continuous drainage, pending further processing or packaging.

19.8.6.1 Water Immersion of Poultry Carcasses for Rehydration

The plant chilling system may be used for immersing previously chilled poultry carcasses, e.g., to rehydrate or restore bloom or to "soften-up" ice packed carcasses prior to automatic cut-up machines, provided that:

  • the water temperature does not exceed 4°C;
  • the average moisture pick up does not exceed 2% and this is confirmed by tests conducted by plant personnel for each lot. The testing will be monitored by inspection staff;
  • the tank is drained and cleaned prior to use for re-hydration; and
  • carcasses are not immersed with or after current production.

Where tanks or vats in which poultry carcasses remain in non-agitated water are employed for this purpose, the above conditions also apply.

19.8.7 Refrigeration of Rabbit Meat Products

Methods similar to those used for poultry carcasses may be employed to chill rabbit carcasses in water, provided control measures are in place to ensure that, at the time of packaging there is no increase of the hot weight of the carcass as a result of water chilling.

Rabbit carcasses may also be hung on racks or chilled in coolers.

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