Knowledge Exchange (HIKE) Scenario 01-05
Under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA),
a poultry product is adulterated if, among other circumstances, it is
in whole, or in part, the product of any poultry which has
died otherwise than by slaughter (21 U.S.C. 453(g)(5).
Regulations also provide that carcasses of poultry showing
evidence of having died from causes other than slaughter will
be condemned (9 CFR 381.90). Additionally, the regulations
require that poultry be slaughtered in accordance with good
commercial practices, in a manner that will result in thorough
bleeding of the poultry carcass and will ensure that breathing
has stopped before scalding (9 CFR 381.65 (b)). Live poultry
should be treated in a manner that is consistent with good
OBJECTIVE: This HIKE will give an example of how inspection
program personnel can:
- Take enforcement action with respect
to noncompliance that occurs in poultry establishments when poultry is
treated in a manner that is NOT consistent with good commercial practices
or poultry has died otherwise than by slaughter.
- Understand the process of evaluating situations and applying the
relevant statutory provision or regulations in the poultry
handling/slaughtering area (before to the point of entering the scalder).
You are the PHV in a poultry slaughter and processing establishment.
Approximately 45 minutes into your shift, one of your line inspectors
calls you to their postmortem inspection station to notify you that they
have condemned numerous cadavers for approximately ten minutes. The
inspector, however, does comment that the situation seems to have improved
just prior to your arrival at the station.
You check condemned barrels and Poultry Inspection-Lot Tally Sheets (FSIS
Form 6000-16) at each inspection station and confirm, that for the
production lot in question, each inspection station did record an
abnormally high number of carcasses condemned in the Cadaver category.
Carcasses in the U.S. Condemned barrels show characteristic signs of birds
that died other than by slaughter. You concur that these birds were
accurately condemned as per 9 CFR 381.90. You then notify
all of the line inspectors to inform you immediately if they observe
unusual numbers or patterns of cadaver birds while performing postmortem
You decide to investigate further. You go back to the picking room to
observe operations and notice two plant employees with knives standing
downstream from the electrical stunner and automatic neck cutter
equipment. The plant employees are cutting many of the necks by hand but
at this point there is no evidence that the birds are being inadequately
An hour later, the GS-8 floor inspector informs you that two line
inspectors want you to evaluate an unusually high incidence of cadavers.
As you are observing from one postmortem station and looking across at the
other evisceration line you see multiple cadavers are currently coming
down both lines. These cadavers are condemned as per 9 CFR 381.90. You
determine that line inspectors can still adequately properly inspect each
bird processed and decide that a line speed reduction is not indicated at
this time. You immediately proceed to the picking room where you observe
a maintenance employee and a plant foreman monitoring the stunning
equipment. Additionally, there is one plant employee backing-up the
equipment in the kill area; he is working very rapidly, but the cuts that
this employee is making are inadequate as evidenced by limited hemorrhage
from the necks of the birds. Simultaneously you observe several birds in
quick succession entering the scald tank while still breathing.
You inform the plant foreman that their slaughter procedure is out of
compliance with 9 CFR 381.65(b). They cannot be considered to be using
good commercial practices because carcasses have not thoroughly bled out,
and birds are still breathing when entering the scalding tank. The
establishment's slaughtering practices are producing adulterated product
[9 CFR 381.1 (b) (v) and PPIA Sec. 4 (g) (5)]. You also
inform the plant foreman that you are going to take a regulatory control
action per 9 CFR 500.2(a) (2) & (3) by placing a "U.S.
Rejected" tag at the live hang table. You notify the plant foreman to
stop hanging birds and that immediate corrective actions are needed to
prevent further scalding of breathing birds. First you hear the foreman
give the order to stop the hang and then you observe the foreman direct 2
employees to be back up cutters at the point in the line after the neck
cutter but before the bleed trough. The plant foreman verbally informs
you that another employee will observe the birds at the point between the
bleed trough and the first scalder so they can remove breathing birds from
the line before they enter the scalder. Assured that further scalding of
breathing birds is prevented; you proceed to the live-hang area and place
Upon returning to the killing area you observe that corrective actions are
being followed. You inspect birds prior to the scalder and find that birds
are no longer entering the scalder while still breathing. The plant
foreman assures you that the preliminary staffing of the two back up
cutters and the observer will be kept in place, as an interim measure,
until the maintenance staff completes stunning and killing machine
adjustments. The plant foreman also tells you the plant will conduct a
thorough assessment of the events and will communicate to you final
planned actions that will be implemented to prevent breathing birds from
entering the scalder. You accept the corrective actions and, with the
plant foreman's offer of developing and implementing effective long term
actions, you release the regulatory control action on the live-hang table.
You return to the killing area and observe that the plant's corrections on
the equipment seem to have worked as there are no breathing birds entering
You document the circumstances of the noncompliance on an NR including
observations that a large number of cadavers were noted at postmortem
inspection. Investigation showed that a malfunction of the
stunning/killing equipment resulted in the plant not slaughtering in
accordance with good commercial practices in a manner that results in
thorough bleeding of the carcasses and ensuring that breathing has stopped
prior to scalding. Your task code is 04C01 with the "economic" trend
indicator. You reference the appropriate regulations, 9 CFR 381.90, 9 CFR
381.1 (b) (v) and 9 CFR 381.65(b), which states in part that "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."
9 CFR 381.1(b)(v) If it is, in whole or in part, the product of any
poultry which has died otherwise than by slaughter.
The Humane Interactive
Knowledge Exchange (HIKE) is a service of the FSIS
Technical Service Center and DVMS to foster awareness and regulatory
compliance for the welfare of livestock. It is important that everyone
understands that HIKE and the information herein is intended for the use of all
field employees and to be shared with plant management. If questions pertaining
to any of the scenarios, or answers provided on HIKE are not resolved through
discussions within the work-group or with the supervisor,
they should be submitted to: HIKE@fsis.usda.gov.
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