IKE Scenario 17-02: 9 CFR 417.3(a): Corrective Actions-Poultry Zero Tolerance:  October 23, 2002:
You are a HACCP-trained inspector at a large NELS poultry plant with private wells as their only source of water.

9 CFR 417.3(a) states that when the critical limit of a CCP has been exceeded the following corrective actions must ALL be met:

The cause of the deviation is identified and eliminated.

The CCP will be under control after the corrective action is taken.

Measures to prevent recurrence are established; and

No product that is injurious to health or otherwise adulterated as a result of the deviation enters commerce.

The establishment’s HACCP plan identifies a CCP with a critical limit of “no visible fecal material” to be performed. It further states that they will perform the following corrective actions when their critical limit of “zero” is exceeded at this CCP:

Identify and eliminate the cause of the deviation

Bring the CCP under control

Implement measures to prevent recurrence of the deviation

Ensure that no product that is injurious to health or otherwise adulterated as a result of the deviation enters commerce.

In the past, the establishment implemented the following actions to meet the requirements of 9 CFR 417.3(a):


The corresponding line will be stopped.

The level of chlorine in the chiller will be increased from 20 ppm to 50 ppm.

The amount of water added to the chiller will be increased.

Chlorinated rinse cabinets with 20 ppm of chlorine will be turned on post -chill and thoroughly rinse the inner and outer surfaces of all carcasses.

The cause of the deviation will be identified and eliminated.

The line will be restarted at 50 birds per minute (BPM) and a retest performed to assess whether the CCP is back in control.

If the retest passes, the line speed will be increased to 91 BPM (or the speed being run before the reduction).

If the retest fails the line will again be stopped and the cause of the deviation further investigated. Go to step (5).

Three birds will be tagged and placed in the chiller at the bird drop.

The increased levels of chlorine in the chill water will be maintained and the post-chill sprayers will remain on until a tagged bird exits the chiller. The increased water-input will remain until the water in the chiller has been completely overturned.

A person will be placed on each rehang line post-chill to monitor all product for visible feces. They will remain in this position and performing this function until a tag exits the chiller.

If visible feces is found post-chill: The rehang lines will be stopped and the birds up to the contaminated bird on the lines removed. All product on the rehang belt and the removed birds from the line will be held and washed under pressure with water containing at least 20 ppm of chlorine.

Plant management will make an assessment, after reviewing all data pertaining to the exceeded critical limit, and determine on a case-by-case basis what specific preventive measures to implement.

Today, while performing a monitoring check at their CCP, the plant exceeded their critical limit of “zero” for feces. Due to the fact that the plant’s wells are in danger of running dry, they want to implement procedures to conserve water, while still meeting all four parts of 9 CFR 417.3(a).

Specifically, the plant would like to eliminate the increase in water to the chiller (see step (3) and the reference to increased water in step (10)). They feel that the added chlorination of the chiller water, in conjunction with the chlorinated spray/rinse cabinet post-chill, is adequate to prevent adulterated product from being shipped.

As a critical thinker, what would you do at this juncture to assist the plant in its interpretation of current regulations and policies concerning zero tolerance.

After review of 9 CFR 381.65(e), you determine that poultry carcasses contaminated with visible fecal material shall be prevented from entering the chill tank:

The plant has obviously addressed this requirement with its CCP for zero tolerance.

You subsequently review the plan for compliance with all four of the requirements of 9 CFR 417.3(a):

You determine that a plant has many options for meeting these requirements. Since there is no regulatory requirement for the “overturning” of the chill water, you would not require this step. The plant would have to demonstrate that the contaminated chill media is being adequately addressed in order to prevent shipment of adulterated product. If the plant has scientific data supporting that the levels of chlorine added to the chiller are adequate to meet this concern, then you would inform them that the proposed corrective actions meet the regulatory requirements in 9 CFR 417.3(a).

For IKE related questions, send mail to ike@fsis.usda.gov. For all other general questions, send to Tech Center address listed below.