1. As food business operators, 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 (eg 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. Food business operators must also have in place HACCP controls appropriate to their business.
2. 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 Official Veterinarian (OV) of the FSA Operations Group/DARD VS but could be carried out by an Approved Veterinarian (AV) or by a private veterinary surgeon.
3. Ante-mortem inspection of the birds is required and it is the food business operator’s responsibility to arrange who should carry out this inspection. It can only be carried out by an Official Veterinarian of the FSA Operations Group/DARD VS or by an Approved Veterinarian; this is a commercial decision for the food business operator. If it is undertaken by an Official Veterinarian the food business operator will be charged for this work under the Meat (Official Controls Charges) Regulations 2009 that came into force at the end of September 2009. Approved Veterinarians are also likely to charge for this work. The ante-mortem certificate is valid for up to 3 days so ante-mortem can take place up to three days before slaughter.
4. The holding must have facilities for concentrating the birds to allow an ante-mortem inspection of the group to be made. Such facilities need to have adequate lighting and access space to enable effective ante-mortem inspection to be carried out. Animal welfare requirements must also be taken into consideration (see 6, below).
5. 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.
6. Throughout the production process, from farm to the point of death, there is a legal requirement to treat animals 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.
Procedures for the slaughter or killing of animals must ensure that pain and distress is minimised. It is essential that the food business operator complies with these and other requirements contained in the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, as amended.
7. 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, they 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 FSA Operations Group/DARD VS 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.
8. The slaughtered birds must be accompanied to the approved slaughterhouse or cutting plant by appropriate food chain information which should be detailed on a combined declaration by the food business operator 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 food chain information, 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 food chain information. This is necessary if they are to receive an Identification Mark and not be consigned as animal by-products. In all cases the birds will be subject to satisfactory completion of post-mortem inspection under the supervision of the Official Veterinarian or Authorised Officer.
Model document - a model document combining an owner’s declaration and veterinary certificate for on-farm slaughtered poultry is at Annex B6 of Chapter 9 of the MIG (for ease it has been reproduced as Annex 2 to this Guidance document). If the correct documentation is not provided the carcases must be disposed of, by the receiving plant, as animal by-product. When signing the model document, the AV/OV 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 AV’s/OV’s declaration is signed.
9. All food business operators 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 operator 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: eg contamination with faecal material;
- plucking: contamination of carcases by pathogenic bacteria from plucking;
- chilling/storage temperatures: eg growth of pathogenic bacteria due to poor chiller maintenance (temperature control and cleanliness).
There is more information on compliance with the hygiene legislation in the Meat Industry Guide including, in Part 3 of that Guide, the Application of HACCP principles.