This guidance sets out the criteria to be met by food business operators (FBOs) seeking authorisation from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to slaughter poultry on-farm and supply uneviscerated birds to approved poultry producers for delayed evisceration.
This type of production should not be confused with the direct supply by the producer of small quantities (i.e. under 10,000 birds per annum) of meat from poultry and lagomorphs slaughtered on the farm to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying such meat to the final consumer (i.e. those exempt by Article 1.3(d) of Regulation (EC) 853/2004). These establishments will not be approved and therefore cannot receive uneviscerated birds.
Poultry plants approved under Regulation (EC) 853/2004 must only receive and process poultry meat that comes from other approved establishments and that bears an Identification Mark (as in Regulation (EC) 853/2004, Annex II, Section I). However, rather than simply supply live poultry, some farmers (i.e. FBOs) would like to be able to slaughter poultry on-farm and supply uneviscerated birds to approved establishments for delayed evisceration. The legislation allows for this providing such production is ‘authorised’ (Regulation (EC) 853/2004, Annex III, Section II, Chapter VI, refers).
Requirements for authorisation
For authorisation to slaughter poultry on-farm and supply uneviscerated carcases to approved establishments for delayed evisceration, FBOs must meet all the relevant requirements of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 and those of Regulation (EC) 853/2004, Annex III, Section II, Chapter VI (slaughter on the farm). In all cases the farm must be registered with the local authority under Regulation (EC) 852/2004 and be authorised by FSS under Regulation (EC) 853/2004. It must also have in place procedures based on HACCP principles for handling carcases in ways that minimise contamination of other carcases or meat. Each circumstance will be different and will need to be considered on its merits. FSS Approvals Team should send the relevant local authority the details of any farm that is authorised to slaughter poultry on-farm and supply uneviscerated carcases to approved establishments for delayed evisceration.
The authorisation of on-farm poultry production is recommended, in the first instance, by FSS Veterinary Managers (VMs) following a visit to the premises. The VM will assess each operation on its merits. Subsequent periodic inspections and/or audits to ensure compliance with the relevant parts of the legislation will be undertaken by FSS on a risk basis. Inspections and audits would incur a charge.
FBOs applying for authorisation of on-farm slaughter facilities must ensure that the establishments where carcases will be processed have been approved for the delayed evisceration and/or further processing of these birds. For establishments where such processing has not been approved the VM will need to make an approval visit to them. FSS Approvals Team will keep a record of all the establishments approved for these operations.
FBOs wishing to undertake this type of production will also need to bear in mind the additional cost of post-mortem inspection (PMI) incurred at the slaughterhouse or cutting plant.
Guidance on compliance with legislative requirements
As FBOs, all producers of poultry for on-farm slaughter must comply with the relevant requirements of Part A, Annex I of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 for the production/rearing of live birds (e.g. storage and handling of feed, cleaning and disinfection of equipment, a potable (or clean in the case of primary production) water supply, pest control, bio-security, record-keeping - including for food and veterinary medicines) and the appropriate Chapters of Annex II of that Regulation, in particular regarding the general requirements for food premises, equipment, food waste, water supply, personal hygiene, foodstuffs and training. FBOs must also have in place HACCP controls appropriate to their business.
The farm of production must also undergo regular veterinary inspections to check, for instance, the health status of the poultry. This need not necessarily be undertaken by an FSS Official Veterinarian (OV) but could be carried out by an Approved Veterinarian (AV) or by a private veterinary surgeon.
Ante-mortem inspection (AMI) of the birds is required and it is the FBO’s responsibility to arrange who should carry out this inspection. It can only be carried out by an FSS OV or by an AV - this is a commercial decision for the FBO. If it is undertaken by an OV the FBO will be charged for this work under the Meat (Official Controls Charges) (Scotland) Regulations 2009. AVs are also likely to charge for this work. The ante-mortem certificate is valid for up to 3 days so AMI can take place up to 3 days before slaughter.
The holding must have facilities for concentrating the birds to allow an AMI of the group to be made. Such facilities need to have adequate lighting and access space to enable effective AMI to be carried out.
The holding must have premises suitable for the hygienic slaughter and further handling of the birds. Rooms used for the slaughter and, if performed, the plucking and chilling of poultry must meet the requirements for a poultry slaughterhouse as outlined in Regulation (EC) 853/2004, Annex III, Section II, Chapter II, paragraph 2(a) to (e). There should be a sufficient number of slaughter rooms/areas for the size of the operation. The slaughter area/room(s) should be constructed in such a way that the contamination of the carcases/meat is avoided.
Animal welfare requirements must also be taken into consideration and procedures for the slaughter or killing of animals must ensure that pain and distress is minimised. Throughout the production process, from farm to the point of death, animals must be treated in a way that prevents suffering, excitement or distress, and provides an environment that, as far as possible, enables the animals to behave in a natural way. This includes calm and efficient handling, taking into account the animals’ natural behaviour, thus reducing the potential for stressful situations to develop for both the animals and the handlers. It also helps to improve the safety of operatives. It is essential that the FBO complies with these and other requirements contained in the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (Scotland) Regulations 2012, as amended.
As soon as they have been slaughtered and, where applicable, plucked, poultry for delayed evisceration should be chilled to not more than 4°C and kept at this temperature until they are transported to an approved slaughterhouse or cutting plant and may be kept for up to 15 days prior to evisceration. The on-farm premises must have sufficient refrigeration capacity to be able to store the slaughtered birds prior to transport so as to ensure that the cross contamination of other carcases is avoided. Carcasses may, however, be sent to a near-by approved premises for refrigeration to, and storage at, not more than 4°C, however this must be done immediately after slaughter. The FSS Approvals Team would need to authorise the alternative facilities to make sure they are fit for purpose, each case to be considered on its merits. Evisceration must be carried out in an approved slaughterhouse or cutting plant in the same Member State as the farm of production.
The slaughtered birds must be accompanied to the approved slaughterhouse or cutting plant by appropriate food chain information (FCI) which should be detailed on a combined declaration by the FBO who reared the birds indicating any veterinary products or other treatments administered to the birds, dates of administration and withdrawal periods, and the date and time of slaughter.
Note: While paragraphs 6 and 7 of Chapter VI, Section II, Annex III of Regulation (EC) 853/2004 refer only to birds being sent to a slaughterhouse being accompanied by FCI, they can also be sent to an approved cutting plant (which has been authorised to receive birds for delayed evisceration). They must, however, be accompanied by FCI. This is necessary if they are to receive an Identification Mark and not be consigned as animal by-products (ABPs). In all cases the birds will be subject to satisfactory completion of PMI inspection under the supervision of the OV.
All FBOs are responsible for making sure that, as far as possible, the food produced by their business is safe to eat (Article 14 of Regulation (EC) 178/2002). To do this the FBO must have in place food safety management procedures and good working practices. To produce safe food for consumers, all those hazards that compromise the production of safe food must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. Some examples of areas where there might be risks are:
- the acceptance of birds for slaughter: e.g. contamination with faecal material;
- plucking: contamination of carcases by pathogenic bacteria from plucking;
- chilling/storage temperatures: e.g. growth of pathogenic bacteria due to poor chiller maintenance (temperature control and cleanliness).
- Cleaning and disinfection of equipment, knives and other implements that come into contact with meat must be undertaken before the start of work, after every break, and whenever the implements become soiled. Equipment and knives used for slaughtering or for other operations in the slaughter area and that come into contact with fresh meat should be cleaned and disinfected in water at a temperature of not less than 82°C or an alternative method having the equivalent effect. There is no requirement, under the Hygiene Regulations, for a farm where birds are slaughtered or killed to have cleaning and/or disinfection facilities for poultry transport vehicles/crates unless:
- the birds have been transported from a farm of production/growing that is different to the farm of slaughter; and
- there is no officially authorised place nearby for the cleaning and disinfection of vehicles/crates.Cleaning and disinfection of vehicles and crates must be discussed with the FSS VM at the time of the authorisation assessment.
ABPs must be disposed of as quickly as possible and must not be able to contaminate the meat for human consumption. They must be disposed of according to Regulation (EC) 1069/2009 (the Animal By-products Regulation).
Model document to accompany the bodies of poultry slaughtered on farm to an approved slaughterhouse
A model document combining an owner’s declaration and veterinary certificate for on-farm slaughtered poultry is required. If the correct documentation is not provided the carcases must be disposed of, by the receiving plant, as ABP. When signing the model document, the OV/AV must consider and take into account the owner’s/agent’s declaration which, with the exception of the Date/Time of slaughter and the declaration regarding the correct slaughter of the birds, is to be completed before the OV’s/AV’s declaration is signed.
Farmed game slaughter
Food business operators (FBOs) must complete a Health Certificate to accompany the bodies of farmed game animals/ratites slaughtered on farm to an approved slaughterhouse.
This requirement forms part of the whole chain, farm-to-fork approach to food safety introduced by the hygiene regulation from 1 January 2006.
These arrangements combine the certification of the results of the ante mortem inspection (AMI) with food chain information (FCI) and certification that farmed game animals and ratites were slaughtered and bled correctly together with confirmation of the date and time of slaughter.