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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Hike Scenario 01-05

Under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), a poultry product is adulterated if, among other circumstances, it is
The following references should be used when studying this HIKE:

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 commercial practices.

  • 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 inspection.

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 slaughtered.

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 your tag.

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 the scalder.

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."

Appendix Regulatory References: 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.

Last Modified Sep 26, 2013