Annex Y-1: Retained Water in Raw Meat and Poultry Products

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Federal Register: January 9, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 6)] [Rules and Regulations] [Page 1749-1772] 9 CFR Parts 381 and 441 [Docket No. 97-054F] RIN 0583-AC26 as amended by Federal Register: April 17, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 74) [Rules and Regulations] [Page 19713-19714] 9 CFR Parts 381 and 441 [DOCID:fr17ap01-1]

Retained Water in Raw Meat and Poultry Products: Poultry Chilling Requirements

Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.
Action: Final rule plus final rule correction.

Summary: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing regulations to limit the amount of water retained by raw, single-ingredient, meat and poultry products as a result of post-evisceration processing, such as carcass washing and chilling. Raw livestock and poultry carcasses and parts will not be permitted to retain water resulting from post-evisceration processing unless the establishment preparing those carcasses and parts demonstrates to FSIS, with data collected in accordance with a written protocol, that any water retained in the carcasses and parts is an inevitable consequence of the process used to meet applicable food safety requirements. In addition, the establishment will be required to disclose on the labelling of the meat or poultry products the maximum percentage of retained water in the raw product. The required labelling statement will help consumers of raw meat and poultry products to make informed purchasing decisions. Establishments having data demonstrating that there is no retained water in their products can choose not to label the products with the retained-water statement or to make a no-retained-water claim on the product label. FSIS is also revising the poultry chilling regulations to improve consistency with the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP) regulations, eliminate "command-and-control" features, and reflect current technological capabilities and good manufacturing practices.

Federal Register: January 10, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 7) [Rules and Regulations] [Page 1277-1281] 9 CFR Parts 381 and 441 [Docket No. 01-046N] RIN 0583-AC87

Retained Water in Raw Meat and Poultry Products: Suspension of Regulation

Summary: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is suspending until January 9, 2003, regulations that limit water retained by raw meat and poultry products from post-evisceration processing to the amount that is unavoidable in meeting applicable food safety requirements and that require labelling for the amount of water retained. The original effective date of these final regulations was January 9, 2002. FSIS is taking this action in response to a petition from four trade associations representing the meat and poultry industries. The petitioners requested the effective date be extended until August, 2004. However, FSIS has decided that a one-year suspension of the regulation will allow the meat and poultry industry sufficient time to complete necessary experimentation, including microbial testing and chilling system trials under FSIS-accepted data collection protocols; to fine-tune and stabilize newly adjusted processes; and to conduct regular measurements of retained water at packaging. Suspension of the regulation also will provide members of the meat and poultry industry sufficient time to order new supplies of labels with statements reflecting the amount of retained water in their raw products.

The final rule promulgating the retained water regulations also made numerous technical amendments in the sections of the poultry products inspection regulations that concern poultry chilling practices. The effective date of these amendments will remain January 9, 2002.

Dates: The effective date of the amendments of 9 CFR 381.65 and 381.66 published January 9, 2001 (66 FR 1750), as corrected by the Federal Register notice published April 17, 2001, at 66 FR 19713-19714, is and remains January 9, 2002. 9 CFR part 441 is suspended from January 9, 2002, until January 9, 2003.

Part 381 - Poultry Products Inspection Regulations

  1. The authority citation for part 381 continues to read as follows: Authority: 7 U.S.C. 138f; 7 U.S.C. 450; 21 U.S.C. 451-470; 7 CFR 2.18, 2.53
  2. Paragraph (b) of Sec. 381.1 is amended by revising the definition of Ready-to-cook poultry to read as follows:

    Sec. 381.1 Definitions. * * * * *

    (b) * * * Ready-to-cook poultry. "Ready-to-cook poultry" means any slaughtered poultry free from protruding pinfeathers and vestigial feathers (hair or down), from which the head, feet, crop, oil gland, trachea, oesophagus, entrails, and lungs have been removed, and from which the mature reproductive organs and kidneys may have been removed, and with or without the giblets, and which is suitable for cooking without need of further processing. Ready-to-cook poultry also means any cut-up or disjointed portion of poultry or other parts of poultry, such as reproductive organs, head, or feet that are suitable for cooking without need of further processing. * * * * *

  3. Section 381.65 is revised to read as follows:

    Sec. 381.65 Operations and procedures, generally.

    1. Operations and procedures involving the processing, other handling, or storing of any poultry product must be strictly in accord with clean and sanitary practices and must be conducted in a manner that will result in sanitary processing, proper inspection, and the production of poultry and poultry products that are not adulterated.
    2. Poultry must be slaughtered in accordance with good commercial practices in a manner that will result in thorough bleeding of the carcasses and ensure that breathing has stopped prior to scalding. Blood from the killing operation must be confined to a relatively small area.
    3. When thawing frozen ready-to-cook poultry in water, the establishment must use methods that prevent adulteration of, or net weight gain by, the poultry.
    4. The water used in washing the poultry must be permitted to drain freely from the body cavity.
    5. Poultry carcasses contaminated with visible fecal material shall be prevented from entering the chilling tank.
    6. Detached ova may be collected for human food and handled only in accordance with 9 CFR 590.440 and may leave the establishment only to be moved to an official egg product processing plant for processing. Ova from condemned carcasses must be condemned and treated as required in Sec. 381.95.
  4. Section 381.66 is amended by revising paragraphs (a), (c), and (d) and removing paragraph (f)(6), to read as follows:

    Sec. 381.66 Temperatures and chilling and freezing procedures.

    (a) General. Temperatures and procedures that are necessary for chilling and freezing ready-to-cook poultry, including all edible portions thereof, must be in accordance with operating procedures that ensure the prompt removal of the animal heat, preserve the condition and wholesomeness of the poultry, and assure that the products are not adulterated. * * * * *

    (c) Ice and water chilling.

    1. Only ice produced from potable water may be used for ice and water chilling, except that the water and ice used for chilling may be reused in accordance with Sec. 416.2(g).
      1. Poultry chilling equipment must be operated in a manner consistent with meeting the applicable pathogen reduction performance standards for raw poultry products as set forth in Sec. 381.94 and the provisions of the establishment's HACCP plan.
      2. Major portions of poultry carcasses, as defined in Sec. 381.170(b)(22), may be chilled in water and ice.
    2. Previously chilled poultry carcasses and major portions must be maintained constantly at 40°F or below until removed from the vats or tanks for immediate packaging. Such products may be removed from the vats or tanks prior to being cooled to 40°F or below, for freezing or cooling in the official establishment. Such products must not be packed until after they have been chilled to 40°F or below, except when the packaging will be followed immediately by freezing at the official establishment.
    3. Giblets must be chilled to 40°F or below within 2 hours from the time they are removed from the inedible viscera, except that when they are cooled with the carcass, the requirements of paragraph (b)(2) of this section must apply. Any of the acceptable methods of chilling the poultry carcass may be followed in cooling giblets.

    (d) Water absorption and retention.

    1. Poultry washing, chilling, and draining practices and procedures must be such as will minimize water absorption and retention at time of packaging.
    2. The establishment must provide scales, weights, identification devices, and other supplies necessary to conduct water tests. * * * * * (f) * * * (6) [Removed]
  5. A new Part 441 is added to subchapter E to read as follows:

    Part 441 - Consumer Protection Standards: Raw Products Authority: 21 U.S.C. 451-470, 601-695; 7 U.S.C. 450, 1901-1906; 7 CFR 2.18, 2.53. Sec. 441.10 Retained water.

    1. Raw livestock and poultry carcasses and parts will not be permitted to retain water resulting from post-evisceration processing unless the establishment preparing those carcasses and parts demonstrates to FSIS, with data collected in accordance with a written protocol, that any water retained in the carcasses or parts is an unavoidable consequence of the process used to meet applicable food safety requirements.
    2. Raw livestock and poultry carcasses and parts that retain water from post-evisceration processing and that are sold, transported, offered for sale or transportation, or received for transportation, in commerce, must bear a statement on the label in prominent letters and contiguous to the product name or elsewhere on the principal display panel of the label stating the maximum percentage of water that may be retained (e.g., "up to X% retained water," "less than X% retained water," "up to X% water added from processing"). The percent water statement need not accompany the product name on other parts of the label. Raw livestock and poultry carcasses and parts that retain no water may bear a statement that no water is retained.
      1. An establishment subject to paragraph (a) of this section must maintain on file and available to FSIS its written data-collection protocol. The protocol must explain how data will be collected and used to demonstrate the amount of retained water in the product covered by the protocol that is an unavoidable consequence of the process used to meet specified food safety requirements.
      2. The establishment must notify FSIS as soon as it has a new or revised protocol available for review by the Agency. Within 30 days after receipt of this notification, FSIS may object to or require the establishment to make changes in the protocol.
    3. Expected elements of a protocol for gathering water retention data:
      1. Purpose statement. The primary purpose of the protocol should be to determine the amount or percentage of water absorption and retention that is unavoidable using a particular chilling system while achieving the regulatory pathogen reduction performance standard for Salmonella as set forth in the PR/HACCP regulations (9 CFR 310.25(b), 381.94(b)) and the time/temperature requirements set forth in 9 CFR 381.66. Additional purposes that could be included are determining chilling system efficiency and evaluating product quality.
      2. Type of washing and chilling system used by the establishment. Any post-evisceration washing or chilling processes that affect water retention levels in and microbial loads on raw products should be described. For poultry establishments, the main chiller types, identified by the mechanism used to transport the birds through the chiller or to agitate the water in the chiller, are the drag-through, the screw type, and the rocker-arm type.
      3. Configuration and any modifications of the chiller system components. A description of chiller-system configurations and modifications should be provided. The description should include the number and type of chillers in a series and arrangements of chilling system components, and the number of evisceration lines feeding into a chiller system. If there is a pre-chilling step in the process, its purpose and the type of equipment used should be accurately described. Any mechanical or design changes made to the chilling equipment should be described.
      4. Special features in the chilling process. Any special features in the chilling process, such as antimicrobial treatments, should be described. Also, the length and velocity of the dripping line should be described, as well as the total time allowed for dripping. Any special apparatus, such as a mechanism for squeezing excessive water from chilled birds, should be explained.
      5. Description of variable factors in the chilling system. The protocol should describe variable factors that affect water absorption and retention. In poultry processing, such factors are typically considered to be the time in chiller water, the water temperature, and agitation. The protocol should consider air agitation, where applicable. Additional factors that may affect water absorption and retention are scalding temperature and the pressure or amount of buffeting applied to birds by feather removal machinery, and the resultant loosening of the skin. Another factor that should be considered is the method used to open the bird for evisceration.
      6. Standards to be met by the chilling system. For example, the chilling system may be designed simply to achieve a reduction in temperature of ready-to-cook poultry to less than 40°F within the time limit specified by the regulations, or in less time. As to the standard for pathogen minimization, the Salmonella pathogen reduction standards, as set forth in the PR/HACCP final rule, have been suggested. Although there is not yet an applicable Salmonella standard for turkeys, establishments are free to adopt practicable criteria for use in gathering data on turkeys under the protocols here suggested. Additional microbiological targets, such as E. coli or Campylobacter levels, or reductions in numbers of other microorganisms, may also be used.
      7. Testing methods to be employed. The protocol should detail the testing methods to be used both for measuring water absorption and retention and for sampling and testing product for pathogen reductions. The protocol should call for water retention and pathogen reduction tests at various chilling equipment settings and chilling time-and-temperature combinations. The method to be used in calculating water absorption and retention should be reproducible and statistically verifiable. With respect to the pathogen-reduction aspect of the testing, FSIS recommends the methods used for E. coli and Salmonella testing under the PR/HACCP regulations. The number of samples, the type of samples, the sampling time period, and the type of testing or measurement should be included in the protocol.
      8. Reporting of data and evaluation of results. The protocol should explain how data obtained are to be reported and summarized. The criteria for evaluating the results and the basis for conclusions to be drawn should be explained.
      9. Conclusions. The protocol should provide for a statement of what the data obtained demonstrate and what conclusions were reached.

Done at Washington, DC: January 3, 2001. Thomas J. Billy, Administrator.

Note: Appendix A will not be codified in Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Appendix A

Method for Determining Moisture in Meat and Meat Products and Poultry Products

A. Introduction Theory

In this determination, a weighed sample is heated, cooled, and then re-weighed. The loss in weight is calculated as moisture content.

B. Equipment Apparatus

  1. Covered aluminum dish. At least 50 mm diameter and not greater than 40 mm deep, containing a paddle.
  2. Mechanical convection oven, preferably one equipped with a booster heater.
  3. Food chopper with plate openings ⅛" (3 mm), or Robot Coupe or equivalent food processor.

C. [Reserved]

D. [Reserved]

E. Sample Preparation Procedure for Fresh Meat or Poultry

For accurate and reliable measurement, the raw meat or poultry sample should be finely ground to a homogeneous consistency.

F. Analytical Procedure

  1. Accurately weigh sample (representing approximately 2 g of dry material) into an aluminum dish.
    1. Weigh the sample as rapidly as possible to minimize loss of moisture.
    2. The weight of the pan should include the paddle, which is used in spreading the sample across the bottom of the pan, thereby presenting a greater sample surface area, which is beneficial to moisture removal.
    3. If the sample is relatively dry when received, a small quantity of distilled water may be added to the pan only after the sample weight is obtained. This quantity of water will be helpful in spreading the sample across the bottom of the pan, and will introduce no error since it will be evaporated when the sample is oven-dried.
  2. Dry, with cover removed, for 16-18 hours at 100-102°C, or for 4 hours at 125°C in mechanical convection oven. Do not overload the drying oven or sample may be insufficiently dried and give low results. Drying time will start when the original temperature has been reached. Use the oven's booster heater, if the oven is so equipped, to minimize this recovery time.

G. Calculations

1. Procedure

Percent = [100 (B - C)] / A

A = sample weight
B = weight of dish + sample before drying
C = weight of dish + sample after drying

Note: If the laboratory is not air-conditioned, and the humidity is high, dishes should be desiccated before the initial and final weighings.


Official Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, 16th Edition, 950.46

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