Poultry water retention control program

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

1. Introduction

The licence holder's Preventive Control Plan (PCP) must include measures to demonstrate how their product meets the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) section 89(1)(a); is not misleading section 89(1)(b) and Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products, Section 20.

The licence holder is required to have a written water retention control program which has been validated to ensure that the poultry product produced will meet the regulatory water retention standards at all times.

This guidance document uses the following principles:

  • The chilling process will not lead to water retention in excess of regulatory standards.
  • A written program will list all steps and controls of all processes which can lead to water retention.
  • The final product produced will be in compliance with regulatory standards.
  • The final product produced will be sampled using ISO principles and will be used as indicator for
    1. validating water retention program process
    2. compliance to standards
  • The chilling process subject to water retention can be combined with pathogen reduction program (for example using chlorine in water chillers to control pathogens).

2. Water retention limits

Poultry Carcasses:

Poultry carcasses and parts should not retain water resulting from post-evisceration procedures above the standards established in the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products.

As specified in the Canadian Standards of Identity document, the licence holder must ensure that every dressed poultry carcass should not have its original weight increased by more than the percentage set out in the following table, as a result of washing, chilling or other contact with water in a establishment identified in a licence or during transportation from one such establishment to another such establishment.

Table 1: Maximum weight increase of dressed poultry carcasses
Species Weight of dressed poultry carcass Maximum weight Increase Max weight increase
+ ≤ 4%Table Note 1
Turkey under 4.5 kg 8% ≤ 12%
4.5 kg to under 9 kg 6% ≤ 10%
9 kg and over 5.5% ≤ 9.5%
ChickenTable Note 2 under 2.3 kg 8% ≤ 12%
2.3 kg and over 6% ≤ 10%
Other irrespective of weight 6% ≤ 10%

Table Notes

Table Note 1

In the case of a dressed poultry carcass that is not packaged in an establishment identified in a licence as an edible consumer prepackaged meat product, the applicable maximum weight increase must not be more than 4% greater than the maximum weight increase set out in Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products, Section 20. (2).

Return to table note 1 referrer

Table Note 2

Chicken includes all Gallus domesticus species including fowl.

Return to table note 2 referrer

Poultry parts, salvaged portions and giblets:

There is no provision in the regulations for raw poultry parts, salvaged portions and giblets to retain water as the result of post-evisceration processing in excess of naturally occurring moisture (except as provided for dressed poultry carcass).

CFIA will allow carcass parts, salvaged portions and giblets may absorb and retain up to 8% added water as a result of post-evisceration contact with water provided that the licence holder develops and implements a written and validated retained water control program similar to carcasses.

Table 2: Maximum weight increase of carcass parts, salvaged portions and giblets
Species Name Maximum weight increase
All Carcass parts
(Chilled as part of carcasses and
cut-up after carcass is chilled)
Max weight increase labelled same as weight of dressed poultry carcass from which parts originatedTable Note 3
All Carcass parts
(Chilled separately from the carcasses)
8%
All Salvaged Portions and Giblets 8%

Table Note

Table Note 3

There is no provision for additional weight increase (as for the poultry carcass that is not packaged in an establishment identified).

The water retention requirements for other poultry products such as ground chicken, mechanically separated meat, finely textured meat may additionally be required by the foreign trading partners (such as the United States of America when defining Raw Single Ingredient Meat Product for exports).

No additional water retention validation and monitoring needed for parts which originate from the carcasses subjected to water retention program and were complaint to regulations.

Return to table note 3 referrer

3. Water retention declarations

Prepackaged giblets, shipping containers for bulk packed giblets and giblets contained within carcasses should be labeled with a retained water declaration as part of the product name. For carcasses containing giblets, the declaration should clearly refer to the giblets or should be truthful for both the carcass and the giblets.

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
  • licence holder 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 should be maintained by licence holder must be presented for examination by the CFIA veterinary inspector.

4. Water retention control program

The licence holder must implement a water retention control program when water comes in contact with poultry products during processing.

This water retention control program must have:

  • Written water retention control program
  • Validation of water retention control program

4.1 Determining which products and processes need water retention control program

Products and processes subject to water retention control program

Products

A water retention control program is required for:

  • carcasses from each species and weight class of poultry listed in the regulations
  • each age category for example young and mature poultry
  • each type of carcass part
  • each type of salvaged portion
  • each component of edible giblets (livers, hearts and gizzards)
    • Note: Licence holder has option to write and implement one common water retention control program for different weight classes turkeys, chicken etc. (For example the licence holder may combine all 3 weight classes of turkeys into one written program, or may combine all 2 weight classes of chicken into one written program). In addition different carcass parts, salvages portions of poultry species can also have a common water retention program provided that:
  • the scope of the written program scope specifies identifies
    • weight class of poultry species covered under a common program
    • names of all carcass parts covered under a common program
    • names of all salvaged portions covered under a common program
  • all carcasses, carcass parts and salvaged portions are subjected to a similar chilling process
  • all products in the common water retention program are included in the validation testing
  • corrective actions apply to all weight class of poultry species and all products covered under a common written program
Processes

The following are examples of post evisceration processes which may involve use of water with or without a microbial control agent and will require a retained water control program:

  • post-evisceration washing, including on-line reprocessing systems
  • transportation in water within stainless steel pipes
  • water or ice chilling
  • water spray while air chilling
  • post chill spraying
  • thawing
  • crust frozen or ice-glazed poultry carcasses are subject to the requirement for a retained water declaration unless they are basted
  • iced necks and backs processed through an advanced meat recovery or mechanical deboning equipment

Note

When licence holder is unsure whether the resulting products require a water retention control program, the licence holder can present written water use protocol with list of poultry products and how water is used for examination by the CFIA veterinary inspector.

Exempted products and processes

Products:

The following products are exempted from a water retention control program:

  • Multi-ingredient poultry products such as basted turkey carcasses, with/without giblets, and giblets within a basted turkey carcass.
  • Products that do not retain water as a result of post-evisceration contact with water (provided the licence holder has documentation).
Processes:

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

  • flushing gizzards and chitterlings (intestines) 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, for example washing hearts, livers, gizzards, paws and feet
  • washing with water to remove the contents within oral cavities and nasal passages in heads for head and feet-on poultry

4.2 Elements of a written water retention control program

The proposed water retention control program 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.

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 licence holder

Describe any post-evisceration washing or chilling/cooling processes that affect the water retention levels.

Describe the chiller types (identified by the mechanism used to transport the carcasses through the chiller and/or to agitate the water in the chiller). For example

  1. Water Chiller:
    • the drag-through
    • the screw type
    • the paddle type
    • the rocker-arm type
  2. Air chiller
  3. Combo chiller (using both water and air as means of chilling)

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

Describe the chiller/cooling system such as

  • configurations
  • 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
  • the number of evisceration lines feeding into a chiller/cooling system

If there is pre-chilling/cooling step in the chilling process

  • accurately describe the purpose and type of equipment used
  • 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
  • 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
  • time in the chiller

Identify the settings of all the key points such as operational settings which affect added and retained water and which could be modified anytime during a work shift such as:

  • water pressure within the inside/outside carcass washer
  • transit time and temperature for water chillers
  • line speed
  • exposure time to water sprays within the air chiller
  • time on the drip line
  • whether cut-up and pre-packaged as parts

Identify other settings may only be checked once at the beginning of each shift.

The licence holder must indicate if the chilling procedures take into consideration the breaks and/or meal periods. The chilling system should be kept operating allowing the tanks to be normally emptied during these periods. If the chilling time includes periods when the carcasses are not emptied from the chillers during either the breaks or meal periods, then the chilling system should be halted during these periods to accurately reflect water retention.

6. Standards to be met by the chilling system

The chilling/cooling system should be designed and operated so as to comply with the applicable time/temperature recommendations as written in "Poultry and rabbit meat refrigeration, chilling, and freezing procedures" for reducing the deep internal muscle temperature down to 4°C.

Describe if the chilling system will be used to meet Poultry Pathogen Reduction Program and Microbial controls.

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 as below:

  • method for calculating water absorption and retention (which should be reproducible and statistically verifiable)
  • 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 for example weighing procedures
  • type of results which are to be included in measurement

When licence holder conducts water retention trials, the trials must 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
  • the calculation or formula used to determine the level of water retention

As per PCP requirements, all documents/records are to be kept for a minimum of 12 months.

9. Conclusions

Explain

  • 1) What
    • the data demonstrates
    • are the conclusions
  • 2) How
    • the conclusions regarding water retention were reached
    • the licence holder will maintain compliance with regulatory requirements including examples of corrective action
  • 3) How much
    • the amount of retained water that will declared by the licence holder on the labels of the packaged products when retained water in carcass, carcass parts and giblets is more than Table 1 and Table 2

Note

For exports, there may be additional export water retention required by foreign countries.

4.3 Poultry products – validation of the water retention control program

After the written program has been examined by the CFIA veterinarian with supervisory authority, the water retention in poultry products will be validated by the licence holder.

Conducting validation using water retention tests in final poultry products ensures that:

  • the written program is effective in controlling water retention
  • the final product meets regulatory compliance on an on-going basis

This validation will include:

  1. initial validation
  2. ongoing monitoring
  3. revalidation
Table 3: Water retention procedure and steps
Type of Validation 1. Initial validation 2. On-going monitoring 3. Revalidation
Step 1 a) Sampling procedure a) Sampling procedure a) Annually
Step 2 b) Calculation of percent weight gain or loss and associated records b) Calculation of percent weight gain or loss and associated records b) Immediately
Step 3 c) Assessment of initial validation c) Assessment of ongoing monitoring
Step 4 d) Low water Retention d) Low water Retention

Each water retention procedure and step is explained in detail in appropriate section

Note

The licence holder may develop an alternate monitoring protocol provided it meets the intent of regulatory requirements and have been examined by the CFIA veterinarian with supervisory authority.

Additional considerations

When conducting water retention validation, the licence holder must continue to monitor the chilling parameters as written in Poultry and rabbit meat refrigeration, chilling, and freezing procedures on an on-going basis and the settings of the key points should be recorded at minimum on an hourly basis.

1. Initial validation

Initial validation includes testing that is to be performed to determine if the "Elements of a written water retention control program" when implemented on-site:

  • are scientifically and technically sound
  • ensure water retention is under control and outcome will meet regulatory requirements
  • all steps which can lead to excessive water retention are under control
a) Sampling Procedure
Physical water pick-up test
Carcasses

A minimum of 50 whole untrimmed poultry carcasses are to be randomly selected, identified and weighed individually. Each sample should be weighed twice and the weights recorded.

The initial weight of each sample is determined by weighing it prior to the first final carcass washer after post-mortem inspection or detection. The final weight is determined by weighing the same sample after the normal chilling and drainage time prior to packaging.

Carcass Parts, Giblets and Salvaged Portions

A minimum of 50 pieces of specific product category may be weighed individually or as a bulk sample to obtain both the initial pre-chill weight and the final post-chill weight. The initial weight is determined by weighing the sample collected prior to contact with water or ice as used to chill or transport the sampled product. The final weight is determined by weighing the same sample after the normal chilling and drainage time prior to packaging.

Each sample should be weighed twice and the weights recorded.

For carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions, validation must be done for each product type.

The carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions may be combined for tests conducted on same species (irrespective of weight class and age of poultry).

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:

  • giblets
  • carcass parts
  • salvaged portions

The products listed above must 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 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 for example 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.

b) Calculation of percent weight gain or loss and associated records

Percentages must be calculated based on the initial weight for all the samples as follow:

Final weight – Initial Weight / Initial Weight X 100 = Retention %

A data collection sheet for water retention should contain the following:

  • the percentage weight increase or decrease for each sample corresponding to the initial and final weights; and
  • the average weight increase or decrease for the entire group of 50 samples should be calculated and entered

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

c) Assessment of initial validation
Physical water pick-up test
Carcasses

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

  1. For water chilling:
    • the average weight increase (or decrease) of the group of 50 samples does not exceed the stipulated regulatory maximum; and
    • no more than six (6) samples exceed the aforementioned regulatory maximum plus 20% (for example for chicken carcasses which are prepackaged and are permitted to retain a maximum of 8% absorbed and retained water, no more than six (6) carcasses from the group of 50 sampled carcasses may exceed 9.6%.)
  2. For air chilling:
    • the average weight increase for the 50 samples should not exceed 0.0%
    • a maximum of 25 individual samples from the group of 50 samples may have an increase exceeding 0.5%
      Note: 0.5% is to account for scale variability and not to be interpreted as tolerance.
    • no individual sample should exceed 2.0% absorbed and retained water
Carcass Parts, Giblets and Salvaged Portions

Operations for the washing, chilling and drainage of carcass parts, giblets and salvage portions are deemed to be in compliance with the regulations if the following conditions are met:

  1. For water chilling:
    • the average weight increase (or decrease) of the group of 50 pieces of specific product category may be weighed individually or as a bulk sample does not exceed the stipulated regulatory maximum
  2. For air chilling:
    • the average weight increase (or decrease) of the group of 50 pieces of specific product category may be weighed individually or as a bulk sample does not exceed the stipulated regulatory maximum
Oven drying laboratory method

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%, for example to declare "Up to 8% water added"
  • 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.
d) Low water retention

After initial validation testing, ongoing monitoring is notrequired when the initial validation data have results are as below:

  • for dressed carcasses: the average percentage weight increase for the group of 50 sampled is less than half that permitted by the regulations
  • for giblets/necks/salvage portions: the average percentage weight increase for the group of 50 sampled is less than half permitted (i.e. <4%)
  • for carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions: none of the individual sample weight increases exceeds that permitted by the regulations or exceeds > 8%

Note

The water retention validation test should be repeated at least once each year for carcasses, carcass parts and giblets with low water retention. The validation will be required earlier than yearly test when there is change in initial validation parameters for both process and product (such as new poultry species, new product which has not been previously validated).

2. Ongoing monitoring (after a validated water retention control program)

Ongoing monitoring includes testing that is to be performed after initial validation is completed and to determine if the "Elements of a written water retention control program" when implemented on-site:

  • are scientifically and technically sound
  • ensure process is under control and outcome will meet regulatory requirements
  • ensure product meets water retention standards on an on-going basis
  • that all steps which can lead to excessive water retention are under control
  • ensure periodic testing of the poultry product(s) indicating the process is consistently under control on an on-going basis

Note

The poultry product, physical water retention test method chosen for ongoing monitoring tests should be same as for initial validation (physical water pickup, oven drying laboratory method etc.).

a) Sampling procedure
Carcasses

Choose the poultry species (multiple species) that are being produced in production day.

Carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions:

The licence holder has the option to sample:

  • a) When initial validation is less than 4% of tolerance for all three (carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions) sample:
    • all three categories or
    • choose one with highest water retention from carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions)
  • b) When initial validation is greater than 4% of tolerance for specific category (carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions) sample:
    • all three categories (carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions) retaining water >4%
    • continue all categories sampling unless the licence holder can revalidate to show water retention is <4% for all three (carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions)
Sampling plan

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

Testing frequency

The testing frequency for carcasses, carcass parts, giblets and, salvaged portions should be at least one (1) test per production shift.

Sample size

The following sample size may be used:

Table 4: Sample size for on-going monitoring
Number of carcasses slaughtered per shift Process Evaluation Corrective Measures Evaluation
501 – 3,200 13 13
3,201 – 35,000 20 20
35,001 – 500,000 32 32

Note

  • The sample can be weighed as an individual piece or can weigh as a group.
  • sample size based upon ISO 2859-1 (1999), Special Inspection Levels, S-3 Single Sampling Plan
  • For small establishments, when the licence holder slaughters numbers are normally less than 500 birds per shift, sample size may be further reduced by licence holder as per ISO 2859-1 (1999) ), Special Inspection Levels, S-3
b) Calculation of percent weight gain or loss and associated records

Percentages must be calculated based on the initial weight for all the samples as follow:

Final weight – Initial Weight / Initial Weight X 100 = Retention %

c) Assessment of ongoing monitoring
Lot acceptance/rejection

The following table indicates accept and reject number according to the required sample size:

Table 5: Sample size, accept and reject number for on-going monitoring when each piece is weighed individually.
Accept and Reject Numbers
AQL of 10, Single Sampling Plan
Sample Size Accept Number Reject Number
13 3 4
20 5 6
32 7 8
Note

The acceptance is in relation to maximum water retention (section 2).

Carcasses

For carcasses a lot of 13 or 20 or 32

  1. For water chill poultry carcasses, a lot is considered to be in compliance if:
    • the average weight increase (or decrease) does not exceed the stipulated maximum water retention – Section 2, Table 1
    • the number of weighed samples with a net weight increase at or above the maximum plus 20% (to compensate for inherent physiological, processing and measurement variability) is equal to or less than the accept number for the corresponding sample size in the preceding table
  2. For air chilled poultry carcasses labelled as "air chilled", a lot is considered to be in compliance if:
    • the average weight increase must not exceed 0.0%
    • The average weight increase (or decrease) of the group of samples does not exceed stipulated maximum – Section 2, Table 2
    • The number of weighed samples with a net water absorption and retention exceeding 0.5% (to account for scale variability) is equal to or less than the accept number for the corresponding sample size in the preceding table
Note

0.5% is to account for scale variability and not to be interpreted as tolerance.

Carcass parts, giblets and salvage portions

For carcass parts, giblets and salvaged portions a lot of 13 or 20 or 32 (individually weighed or weighed as group) a lot is assesses to be in compliance if:

  • If samples are weighed individually, the maximum number of pieces allowed in Table 3 should not increase the maximum water retention – Section 2, Table 2.

For example for sample size 20, maximum 5 pieces are allowed to retain water greater than 8% (as listed in Table 4)

  • if the samples are weighed as a group, average weight increase (or decrease) of the group does not exceed the stipulated maximum – Section 2, Table 2

For example If 20 pieces are weighed as group, the group should not exceed the stipulated maximum – Section 2, Table 2

  1. When using water chill:
    • The number of weighed samples with a net weight increase at or above the maximum is equal to or less than the accept number for the corresponding sample size in the Table 4.
  2. When using air chill:
    • The average weight increase for the 13 or 20 or 32 samples must not exceed 0.0%.
    • The number of weighed samples with a net water absorption and retention exceeding 0.5% (to account for scale variability) is equal to or less than the accept number for the corresponding sample size in the preceding table.
Decision tree for water retention 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, Process Evaluation (Regular Frequency) every shift by taking 13 or 20 or 32 sample units. This has two possibilities. If the sample unit is accepted go to box # 2 and if sample unit is rejected go to box # 7.

  • Box # 2: The sample unit is accepted, go to box # 3.
  • Box # 7: The sample unit is rejected, go to box # 8.
  • Box # 3: Continue Process Evaluation (Regular Frequency) every shift by taking 13 or 20 or 32 sample units until 10 consecutive shifts are accepted. Then go to box # 4.
  • Box # 4: Continue Process Evaluation (Lower Frequency) every shift every 20th consecutive working shift by taking 13 or 20 or 32 sample units. This has two possibilities. If sample unit is accepted go to box # 5 and if sample unit is rejected go to box # 6.
  • Box # 5: The sample unit is accepted, go to box # 4.
  • Box # 6: The sample unit is rejected, go to box # 1.
  • Box # 8: The process is considered out of control. The licence holder will take 3 actions:
    1. Notify the Veterinarian with supervisory authority
    2. Take immediate corrective action
    3. Start segregating the affected product to the last lot which was accepted and under control
    • Go to box # 9
  • Box # 9: Thelicence holder will implement Corrective Measure Evaluation(to evaluate efficacy of control measures) by taking 13 or 20 or 32 sample units. Box # 9 has two possibilities. If sample unit is accepted go to box # 10 and if sample unit is rejected go to box # 11.
  • Box # 10: The sample unit is accepted, go to box # 12.
  • Box # 11: The sample unit is rejected, go to box # 13.
  • Box # 12: The licence holder will stop segregation of the affected product. Go to box # 1.
  • Box # 13: Maintain product segregation and initiate additional corrective measures until accepted corrective measure evaluation*. Go to box # 14
  • Box # 14: This box has additional note to the licence holder.
    • When a process is out of control the segregated product must be brought under compliance.
    • When a process is out of control for air chilled, the segregated product cannot be labelled as "air chilled"
    • The licence holder must decide if the retained water protocol needs to be amended and revalidated.
    • An additional Process Evaluation Test may be performed at any time as an additional assurance of process control may be requested by the operator or the inspection staff.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations have precedence over this decision tree.

  • Sampling begins at process evaluation at regular frequency.
  • Once 10 consecutive sample groups at process evaluation at regular frequency are shown to be in compliance, the licence holder qualifies for a low frequency with a minimum of 1 test per 20 production shifts.
  • Thereafter the licence holder 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 water retention control program needs to be revalidated each year.
  • If the reject number is reached or exceeded, the lot is rejected meaning that the chilling process may be out of control. The veterinary inspector or inspector under authority of veterinary inspector is to be notified, the licence holder should determine the probable cause, and then take immediate corrective action as indicated within the licence holder's water retention control program.
d) Low water retention

If the licence holder chooses to monitor the carcasses, carcass parts and giblets with low water retention, the water retention validation test should be repeated at least once each year for carcasses, carcass parts and giblets.

3. Revalidation

Revalidation means reconfirmation that the written program continues to be complete and can deliver the expected water retention outcome.

The revalidation is to be performed at frequency as below:

a) Annually

When chilling process remains under control (as determined by the product testing) for 12 months, an annual revalidation is required for carcasses chilled using

  • water chilling (including ice)
  • air chilling
  • combo-chilling
b) Immediately

An immediate revalidation is required when:

  • there is new regulatory information
  • there is new scientific information for process and product
  • there is change to the chilling process
  • there is change to product list (for example new product which will be exposed to water for chilling); for example
    • new poultry species,
    • new product which has not been previously validated,
    • if licence holder uses a different chilling process for the product for example use water chilling for product which was previously air chilled
  • when there is a systemic loss of water retention controls such as:
    • failure of three consecutive corrective measure evaluations (under ongoing monitoring) is unable to bring process back in control. In such cases the corrective measures will still need to be implemented before revalidation; otherwise there is again high risk of process failure.
    • repeated failures of product tests not meeting regulatory requirements as determined by the CFIA veterinarian with supervisory authority

Note

  • Revalidation will be performed using all steps as written for section 4.3 "1. Initial validation".
  • For systemic failure the re-assessment of water retention protocol will be performed before revalidation.

5. Non-compliant product

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

  • drained until in compliance
  • cut up and/or skinned and/or boned out (provided the packaged product is in compliance)

The cut up and/or skinned and/or boned out product in compliance will be assessed on similar product type (such as skinned, skinless poultry) using the following steps:

  • note down the "Initial Water Retention %" before cut up and/or skinned and/or boned out (this will be non-compliance % which needs to be corrected)
  • note down Initial Weight (at start of cut-up/skinning/boning out)
  • conduct cut up and/or skinned and/or boning steps or any other procedure which can bring product into compliance
  • note down Final Weight (before packaging)
  • determine the "Water Retention Change %" of the final product using the following formula:

Final Weight (before packaging) – Initial Weight (at start of cut-up/skinning/boning out) / Initial Weight (at start of cut-up/skinning/boning out) X 100 = Water Retention Change %

  • determine if product is able to meet regulatory compliance by determining final water retention % by using following formula:

Final water retention % = Initial water retention % – Water Retention change %

  • The final water retention will ensure the resulting product meets standards set in Table 1 and Table 2
  • used in processed meat products (for example basted turkey carcasses), provided that the licence holders have implemented a control program examined by 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
  • handled as inedible material (for example giblets for animal food)

6. Amending validated water retention control programs

The licence holder may establish or change an establishment specific "Poultry Water Retention Control Program" at any time provided it results in the production of a product in compliance with the SFCR.

When the written procedure is amended, the new proposed program must be submitted for examination by the CFIA veterinarian with supervisory authority and must be subsequently validated.

Additional Guidance:

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