“Under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and agency regulations, live poultry must be handled in a manner that is consistent with good commercial practices, which means they should be treated humanely,” said Edward Surgeon, DVM, of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
In poultry operations, continued Surgeon, employing humane methods of handling and processing that are consistent with good commercial practices increases the likelihood of producing unadulterated product. “You will lose customers if you produce and ship an adulterated product. You’re not in business to do that, and we understand that.”
The starting point for enacting good commercial practices is an understanding of just what that term means. A notice in the Federal Register in 2005 reminded the industry of its requirements under the PPIA, and the National Chicken Council and other groups developed guidelines.
“Some of them are so comprehensive that they start from the hatchery and carry all the way into the plant,” Surgeon said, who spoke at a food-safety workshop at the 2016 Georgia Poultry Laboratory, Gainesville. The event was co-sponsored by USDA/FSIS and Zoetis.
The PPIA defines “adulterated” as any product produced in whole or in part from any poultry that has died from anything other than processing. Birds that fall into this category must be condemned. The term “mistreatment” is usually applied to a single incident, not overall systemic problems.
He said problems uncovered during verification are usually documented in a Memorandum of Interview. System problems, however, are written up on a noncompliance record.
Inspectors must document when establishments lose control of processes for handling birds, Surgeon added. Inspectors determine when they are not operating in accordance with good commercial practices and when there are repeated violations. An example would be intentional and repeated mistreatment by establishment personnel.
- Handling practices throughout processing procedures
- Holding shed, including fans and misters in hot weather
- Truck unloading
- Loose birds in the yard
- Birds post-picking
- Review of established written animal-welfare program and records