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Post-mortem evaluation procedures

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

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Introduction

Presentation of carcasses and their parts is done in a consistent manner to allow for the observation of all parts described in the tables below; elements of the Standards for Post-Mortem Evaluation of Food animal carcasses must also be met. Unless otherwise indicated, dressing procedures described in Dressing procedures and preparation of edible parts will be completed prior to the examination of the carcass.

Unless otherwise indicated, the examination of the parts indicated in the table below consists of a visual observation. Any abnormalities detected (enlargement, lesions elsewhere, abnormal palpation) may require further palpation or incision. Abnormalities detected on lymph node examination will necessitate incision (unless it is plainly evident that the lesion is an abscess). Special enhanced post-mortem evaluation procedures may also be required in certain circumstances (that is for bovine cysticercosis, bovine tuberculosis).

The standards in the tables below are deemed the minimal necessary procedures to allow for detection of pathologies or hazards that may pose a risk to human health, and thus, to complete a post-mortem examination or inspection required in the Standards to identify a meat product as edible. Partial dressing can only be entertained if this outcome can be achieved: modified evaluation may be required, such as additional palpation when visual observation may be diminished, however full inspection will be necessary if defects are detected.

Certain elements of these standards may be shared, for example in HLIS, HIP program. Further details are available in the Process controls (under development) document.

For harvesting of specific meat products for human consumption, other examination criteria may need to be met. Please consult the Dressing procedures and preparation of edible parts document for more details.

For the post-mortem evaluation of wild game animals, please refer to the game animal document (under development). Farmed game animals on the other hand will receive the equivalent inspection as that for bovines (for farmed game ruminants) with the exception of dentition verification, or for porcine (for farmed wild boar).

Routine inspection procedures

Bovine/farmed game ruminant
Head Viscera Carcass
Head, with all lymph nodes cited below exposed for evaluation and incision where needed Lungs: includes palpation External de-hided carcassTable Note 1
Dentition verification (only for species subject to SRM removal requirements) Incised right and left tracheobronchial, cranial and caudal mediastinal lymph nodes Internal cavity
Eyes Liver: includes palpation Iliac lymph nodes
Tongue: includes palpation Incised hepatic lymph nodes Cut surface of vertebrae
Incised internal pterygoid and external masseter musclesTable Note 2, Table Note 3, Table Note 4 Heart: exterior and interior with musculature incised via internal surfaceTable Note 3,:
  • 3 shallow incisions in the musculature of the everted heart, OR
  • 1 incision that passes through the interventricular septum from base to apex in order to open the heart and expose both ventricles
Gastro-intestinal tract
Incised medial retropharyngeal, lateral retropharyngeal, parotid and mandibular lymph nodesTable Note 5 Mesenteric lymph nodes
Spleen: includes palpation
Kidneys: enucleated (in carcass or with viscera)

Table Notes

Footnote 1

incisions should be made parallel to the mandible and right through the muscle (exposing at least 75 % of the muscle's surface), exposing predominantly the muscle tissue and to minimum extent the connective tissue (3:1 ratio)

Return to table note 1 referrer

Footnote 2

2 to 3 incisions/slices right through the nodes is considered sufficient

Return to table note 2 referrer

Footnote 3

bovines less than 6 weeks are exempt from these incisions

Return to table note 3 referrer

Footnote 4

calves older than 6 weeks that are not suspect of being infected with Cysticercosis bovis may be exempted of masseter and internal pterygoid incisions as long as 6 incisions total are performed on the cardiac muscle through the internal surface

Return to table note 4 referrer

Footnote 5

veal carcasses must be de-hided for implant detection

Return to table note 5 referrer

Ovine , caprine
Head Viscera Carcass
Head Lungs: includes palpation External
Incised retropharyngeal lymph nodesTable Note 6 Heart: includes palpation Superficial body lymph nodes (subiliac, superficial inguinal or mammary, superficial cervical): includes palpationTable Note 7
Liver: includes palpation
Gastro-intestinal tract
Mesenteric lymph nodes
Bronchial, mediastinal, hepatic lymph nodes: includes palpation

Table Notes

Footnote 6

may be replaced by parotid lymph node incision for partially dressed carcasses

Return to table note 6 referrer

Footnote 7

partial dressing (skin-on) will require additional palpation of prescapular lymph nodes

Return to table note 7

Equine
Head Viscera Carcass
Head Lungs: includes palpation External
Guttural pouch Incised right and left tracheobronchial, cranial and caudal mediastinal lymph nodes Internal cavity
Eyes Liver: includes palpation Iliac lymph nodes
Tongue: includes palpation Incised hepatic lymph nodes Cut surface of vertebrae
Heart Neck
abdominal walls
axillary and subscapular spaces
Gastro-intestinal tract
Incised medial retropharyngeal, lateral retropharyngeal, parotid and mandibular lymph nodesTable Note 8 Mesenteric lymph nodes including palpation
Spleen: includes palpation
Kidneys: enucleated (in carcass or with viscera)

Table Note

2 to 3 incisions/slices right through the nodes is considered sufficient

Return to table note 8 referrer

Porcine/ farmed wild boar
Head Viscera Carcass
Head Gastro-intestinal tract External
Mesenteric lymph nodes, left tracheobronchial lymph node, hepatic lymph node Internal cavity
Spleen
Lungs
Liver Iliac lymph nodes
Incised mandibular lymph nodes Heart Cut surface of vertebrae
Kidneys (enucleated)
Ostrich, rhea, emu
Head Viscera Carcass
Head Lungs: includes palpation External
Eyes Liver: includes palpation Internal cavity
Sinus Heart includes incision (through the interventricular septum)and palpation Abdominal and thoracic air sacs
Neck Kidneys includes palpation
Gastro-intestinal tract
Spleen: includes palpation
Oesophagus
Gizzard
Poultry
Carcass Viscera Cavity
Head (when attached) Lungs Air sacs (interclavicular, thoracic, abdominal)
Body (outer surfaces) Heart Sex organs
Liver Kidneys
Spleen Body walls (abdominal and thoracic)
Duodenum (mature poultry): palpation
Rabbit
Carcass Viscera Cavity
Head (when attached) Lungs Sex organs
Body (outer surfaces) Heart Kidneys
Liver: include palpation Body walls (abdominal and thoracic)
Spleen: include palpation

Enhanced inspection procedures of bovines and other susceptible species for Cysticercus bovis

If on routine examination, 1 or more carcasses in a lot are found to be affected with lesions suggestive of Cysticercus bovis, all affected carcasses and their parts must be held pending laboratory confirmation. As bovine cysticercosis is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act, the identity of the owner and the origin of the cattle must be established for follow up. As soon as a probable lesion is detected, the permanent identification number or, if it is missing, all pertinent information which would assist in identifying the origin of the carcass(es), for example ear tags, brands, etc., will need to recorded and reported to the inspector.

Application of enhanced inspection procedures

Carcasses of all animals that are received under a licence because they are associated to a confirmed case of C. bovis, are subjected to enhanced inspection procedures.

When at least 1 carcass from a lot of cattle subjected to routine inspection is discovered to show signs of infestation, all carcasses which originate from that lot are subjected to enhanced inspection procedures, pending laboratory confirmation.

Enhanced inspection procedures for C. bovis consist of routine inspection procedures that are heightened by detailed examination of the following parts that have been thoroughly sliced:

Laboratory confirmation

Laboratory reports will reflect the results of histological examination of the submitted lesions and will consist of 1 of 3 possible options:

  1. The lesion was not caused by C. bovis. The pathologist will describe the lesion observed, adding the statement that the etiology of the lesion was not C. bovis. In this case, the carcass(es) from which the lesion originated may be considered not to be infested and should therefore be released without further treatment.
  2. The lesion was caused by C. bovis. The pathologist will describe the lesion observed adding a statement which indicates that the etiology of the lesion was C. bovis.
  3. C. bovis cannot be ruled out as a possible cause of the lesion. In this case, the pathologist will describe the lesion observed adding a statement which indicates that the lesion is consistent with that caused by C. bovis. For post-mortem judgement purposes, these carcasses must be considered infested.

Please consult the Disposition Manual (under development) for disposition and treatment requirements for infested carcasses.

Enhanced Inspection Procedures of bovines and farmed game animals for bovine tuberculosis

During an active investigation related to a confirmed case of bovine tuberculosis, added inspection procedures are required to properly assess the spread of the disease from the original confirmed case and to enable mitigation of any further spread. These added examinations are aimed at identifying gross pathological lesions that will determine the appropriate disposition of the carcass (see Disposition Manual (under development)) as well as optimize sampling for laboratory diagnostic testing. CFIA Hygiene Inspection staff will consult the Bovine Tuberculosis Hazard Specific Plan (the BTHSP is an internal document) to determine which carcasses, that are part of the investigation, require enhanced post-mortem inspection on top of routine inspection procedures and to obtain detailed instructions on sample collection, packaging and submission of samples for testing.

The following table is from the BTHSP and summarizes the additional procedures, when required.
Region Tissue to examine and sample (sample tissues in bold, regardless of presence/absence of lesions) Tissues for collection (n)
Head and neck mandibular lymph nodes -
Head and neck parotid lymph nodes 2
Head and neck left and right medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes 2
Head and neck left and right lateral retropharyngeal lymph nodes -
Head and neck cervical (cranial, middle, caudal left and right) lymph nodes -
Thorax mediastinal lymph nodes: examine the entire chain of 3 or more lymph nodes; submit the caudal mediastinal lymph node, which is usually the largest in the chain 1
Thorax left and right tracheobronchial lymph nodesTable Note 9 2
Thorax incise lungs every few centimeters, and examine very carefully; submit the lung tissue only if a lesion is observed, selecting pieces of the tissue that include surrounding normal-appearing lung tissue +/-
Abdomen incise liver every few centimetres and examine carefully; submit any lesion observed, also include some surrounding normal-appearing liver +/-
Abdomen Hepatic portal lymph node 1
Abdomen examine mesenteric chain carefully: submit the large  lymph node at the ileocecal junction (ileocecal colic lymph node) 1
Other superficial cervical (prescapular) lymph nodes 2
Other medial iliac lymph nodes -
Other superficial inguinal (supramammary/scrotal) lymph nodes -
Other subiliac (prefemoral) lymph nodes and popliteal lymph nodes -
Other ileofemoral (deep inguinal) lymph nodes -

Table Note

Footnote 9

Left tracheobronchial lymph node is very important. To access it, flip lung over so ventral side is up; may have to flip heart out of the way; follow trachea down into lobes and will find lymph node cranial to left cranial bronchus (2-3 cm long). Right tracheobronchial lymph node is inconsistently present on right side of tracheal bifurcation, near dorsal aspect of right pulmonary artery.

Return to table note 9 referrer

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