Chapter 4 - Meat Processing Controls and Procedures
4.4 Cooking

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Operators are responsible for determining whether their meat product is ready-to-eat (RTE) according to this section.

The temperature and duration of the cooking process for heat treated meat products should be such that the heat treatment alone or in combination with other preserving processes is sufficient to destroy pathogens and toxins.

It is the operator's responsibility to determine compatible areas and non-compatible areas for different processing steps, as part of the prerequisite program and HACCP system. Refer to the FSEP Manual and Chapter 3, Prerequisite Programs for more details. Establishments should separate the handling of cooked, partially cooked and raw products to prevent recontamination.

Any deviation in cooking processes must be brought to the attention of the Inspector in Charge.

Chilling begins immediately after the cooking cycle is completed and according to section 4.5 of this chapter.

Environmental and product samples in ready-to-eat products are required. See Annex H for mandatory requirements for Listeria spp.

4.4.1 Control Program Requirements for Operators Manufacturing Cooked Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Meat Products

The operator must implement a control program for each individual cooked ready-to-eat meat product which contains:

  • A manufacturing process specified in writing by the operator and used to cook a particular meat product. It must indicate the minimum internal temperature reached during the process and, where applicable, the minimum holding (or dwell) time at the minimum internal temperature. The combination used must provide enough heat energy to achieve at least a:
    • 6.5 log10 (6.5D) reduction in Salmonella spp. in meat products that contain no poultry;
    • 7.0 log10 (7.0D) reduction in Salmonella spp. in meat products containing poultry.
  • A validation referencing a combination of internal product temperatures and minimum holding time (Annex D), or submission of a scientifically validated alternative from a Process Authority that suitably demonstrates that the manufacturing process is designed to deliver the necessary amount of thermal lethality.
  • The operator's control programs must include ongoing verification that the operating procedures and equipment used to make the meat product on a day-to-day basis will deliver the manufacturing process as designed. Worst case scenarios must be included, specifically, the coldest spot of both the equipment and the product.
  • When steam is generated, it must be properly vented out of the area and not allowed to permeate into adjoining rooms.
  • Measuring and/or recording equipment suitable to accurately and consistently measure and/or record the data used to verify that the control limits identified in the manufacturing process are being met. The operator must ensure that the monitoring limits used in their manufacturing process are adjusted by at least the amount of degrees or time specified by the equipment manufacturer as the acceptable measurement error.

    Monitoring equipment capable of measuring within the following limits is required:

    • temperature ± 1.0°C;
    • time ± one minute; and
    • relative humidity (where specified) ± 5%.

    When the operator is using time as a critical limit in the process, they must have automatic recording devices which can capture this data and that are capable of measuring within the following limits:

    • time:
      • ± 1 minute when the minimum internal (dwell) time is at least 10 minutes. The manufacturing process must allow an extra 1 minute of dwell time to compensate for measurement error.
      • ± 5 seconds when the minimum internal (dwell) time is at least 200 seconds. The manufacturing process must allow an extra 5 seconds of dwell time to compensate for measurement error.
      • ± 1 second when the minimum internal (dwell) time is at less than 30 seconds. The manufacturing process must allow an extra 1 second of dwell time to compensate for measurement error.

    If the operator is cooking a pork product in order to make it RTE, use of a recording thermograph is required when the product is not subjected to other Trichinella controls.

4.4.2 Requirements for Heat Treated Non Ready-to-Eat (NRTE) Meat Products

These meat products have been heated to improve their appearance or flavor but the process does not result in a ready-to-eat product. In all cases, the products must be cooked prior to consumption.

Unlike cooked ready-to-eat meat products, the operator is not required to verify at the time of manufacture that non ready-to-eat products have been subjected to a minimum amount of thermal lethality.

However, labelling of the product must comply with Section 94(6.1) of the MIR which stipulates:

"If any meat product is not a ready-to-eat meat product but has the appearance of or could be mistaken for a ready-to-eat meat product, the meat product shall bear the following information on its label:

  • the words "must be cooked", "raw product", "uncooked" or any equivalent words or word as part of the common name of the product to indicate that the product requires cooking before consumption; and
  • comprehensive cooking instructions such as an internal temperature-time relationship that, if followed, will result in a ready-to-eat meat product."

In order to meet these requirements, the operator must label the meat product to prevent it from being mistaken for a cooked RTE product and provide clear preparation instructions that when followed by the consumer will fully cook the product (i.e. provide instructions to achieve a 6.5D or 7.0D reduction in Salmonella spp.).

The text will be the same size as the rest of the common name. Article B.01.006 of the Food and Drug Regulations requires that the common name of the food be shown on the principal display panel, therefore if re-packaged, heated NRTE meat products will have to display the appropriate NRTE qualifiers.

The operator is required to validate the preparation instructions:

  • ensuring that they will yield the appropriate D reduction in Salmonella spp.;
  • ensuring that the instructions are representative of the cooking devices available to the consumer; and
  • ensuring that the minimum amount of thermal lethality must be received in a single dose, it is not acceptable to use a dose cumulative approach, i.e. add the amount of lethality provided at the manufacturing facility to the amount which will be added by end-user preparation as per instructions.
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