Link and logo to the Food Safety and Inspection Service Home Page United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Office of Policy and Program Development
Washington, DC  20250-3700


Protocol for Evaluating Retained Water
in the Following Single Ingredient Poultry Product:  Young Chicken Carcasses

Note: The following is an example protocol and should not to be used verbatim. Because each establishment is unique, each establishment should design their protocol to reflect the individual characteristics of their operations.


1.0    Purpose Statement

         1.1   The purpose of this protocol is to determine the amount of  
                  water absorption and retention in young chicken carcasses
                  that is unavoidable while achieving the regulatory pathogen
                  reduction performance standard for Salmonella (as set forth
                  in the PR/HACCP regulations 9 CFR 381.94(b) and the
                  time/temperature requirements set forth in 9 CFR 381.66.

2.0    Type of washing and chilling system

          2.1    The facility evisceration lines utilize a series of two pre-chiller
                   external sprays, one inside-outside bird washer, immediately
                   followed by the trisodium phosphate antimicrobial system.
                   This is followed by a 60 second drip period prior to entering
                   the cold-water chiller. The chiller is a Stork Gamco model
                   RS-6 which uses a drag-through type mechanism to
                   transport the birds through the chiller. It has a prechiller
                   section, which receives water from the main body of the
                   chiller. Chilled water from the fresh and recirculated sources
                   is added.

3.0    Configuration and modification of the chiller system  

          3.1    The prechiller length is 50 feet with a dwell time of 20   
                   minutes. The main chiller length is 100 feet with a dwell time
                   of 45 minutes. The number of evisceration lines feeding into
                   the chiller system is 2.

4.0    Special features in the chilling process:

    4.1    The chiller uses chlorine as an antimicrobial at 20 PPM.
             After existing the chiller system the birds are placed on a
             drip line that is 100 feet in length and drains the whole
             carcasses for 5 minutes before reaching whole carcass

5.0    Variable factors that affect water absorption and retention

    5.1    The scalding temperature used is approximately 138 F. The
             birds are in the chiller system for 65 minutes. The water
             temperature of the pre-chiller is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The
             water temperature in the main chiller is 36 degrees
             Fahrenheit. The chiller uses air type agitation.

6.0    Standards to be met by the chilling system:

         6.1    The current FSIS Salmonella pathogen reduction
                  performance standards, as set forth in the PR/HACCP final
                  rule, will be met.

7.0    Testing methodology

         7.1    Water absorption and retention

                   7.1.1    Samples will be collected immediately prior to the    
                               two pre-chiller rinses on the evisceration line.

                         *(insert number) random A-grade
                                              carcasses will be tagged and weighed in
                                              *(insert number) groups of *(insert
                                              number) carcasses. The *(insert number)
                                              groups will be distributed evenly
                                              throughout the production period
                                              (beginning, middle, and end) with the
                                              production period being defined as
                                              sanitation to sanitation.

                    7.1.2    Samples will be collected from carcasses at point of

                          The tagged carcasses from will be
                                               weighed immediately prior to packaging.

                          These postchiller weights will be
                                               compared to the pre-chiller weights to
                                              determine the retained water gained using
                                              a mathematical difference calculation
                                              (prepackaging weight minus pre-chiller
                                              weight) as a percentage.

7.2    Pathogen reduction measurement

         7.2.1    *(insert number) groups of *(insert number) carcasses will
                     be randomly selected post-chiller from the same flocks as
                     those tested in Section 7.1. The *(insert number) groups
                     will be distributed evenly throughout the production period
                     (beginning, middle, and end) with the production period
                     being defined as sanitation to sanitation.

              The percent salmonella positive rate will be
                                   determined using the post-chiller carcass rinse
performance standard methodology.

7.3    Evaluation of chiller factors

        7.3.1    Water temperature

             Two chiller settings will be evaluated.

       Temperature setting of 36F

       Temperature setting of 39F

        7.3.2    Air agitation

              Two chiller settings will be evaluated.

                             Air agitation setting of 80 RPM

                              Air agitation setting of 40 RPM

        7.3.3    Study design

              A two-by-two factorial table will be used to
                                   evaluate the effect of these chiller settings on the
                                   percent moisture retention (Section 7.1) and on
                                   the pathogen reduction measurements (Section

              Each of the four chiller setting combinations will
                                   be evaluated for three processing periods (defined
                                   as sanitation to sanitation). Each processing
                                   period will be considered a replicate.

8.0    Evaluation and Reporting of Data

    8.1    The results achieved from the three replicates per chiller    
            setting combination will be averaged and reported as the final
            result for each chiller setting combination.

            8.1.1    Carcass weight differences will be determined using a
                        mathematical difference calculation (prepackaging
                        weight minus pre-chiller weight) for each carcass
                        group resulting in recorded weight difference results.
                        The weight difference obtained per carcass group will
                        be divided by the pre-chiller wash weight per carcass
                        group to determine the % moisture retention    
                        prepackaging per group. The results will be averaged
                        to obtain the estimated average % moisture retention
                        at point of packaging.

            8.1.2   The salmonella data will be reported as the number
                        of positive samples/number of samples tested x 100
                        (% positive).

9.0    Explanation of how the conclusions will be determined.

        9.1    Conclusions will be determined by comparing the baseline
                 pathogen reduction levels achieved pre-protocol
                 implementation with the post-protocol implementation
                 pathogen reduction results. This comparison will be evaluated
                 according to the specifications detailed in section 6.1.

        9.2    The amount of moisture retention that is unavoidable to
                 achieve the above food safety criteria will be reported.

(*) Each establishment should insert statistically significant and verifiable information that reflects their unique operations.


[Return to Related Documents]


For Further Information Contact:
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Regulations and Directives Development Staff
Telephone:  202-720-5627
Fax:  202-690-0486

FSIS is in the process of developing a mechanism for electronic submittal of comments via e-mail -- stay posted.


Send mail to webmaster  with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: February 09, 2004