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Slaughter Hygiene

Food business operators operating slaughterhouses in which poultry or lagomorphs are slaughtered must ensure compliance with the following requirements.

  • Meat from animals other than those referred to in (b) must not be used for human consumption if they die otherwise than by being slaughtered in the slaughterhouse.
  • Only live animals intended for slaughter may be brought into the slaughter premises, with the exception of:
  1. delayed eviscerated poultry, geese and ducks reared for the production of 'foie gras' and birds that are not considered as domestic but which are farmed as domestic animals, if slaughtered at the farm in accordance with Chapter VI of Regulation (EC) 853/2004;
  2. farmed game slaughtered at the place of production in accordance with Section III of Regulation (EC) 853/2004 and
  3. small wild game in accordance with Section IV, Chapter III of Regulation (EC) 853/2004; 

Slaughterhouse operators must follow the instructions of the competent authority to ensure that ante-mortem inspection is carried out under suitable conditions.

Where establishments are approved for the slaughter of different animal species or for the handling of farmed ratites ( e.g. ostriches) and small wild game, precautions must be taken to prevent cross contamination by separation either in time or in space of the operations carried out on the different species. Separate facilities for the reception and storage of carcases of farmed ratites slaughtered at the farm and for small wild game must be available.

Animals brought into the slaughter room must be slaughtered without undue delay.

Stunning, bleeding, skinning or plucking, evisceration and other dressing must be carried out without undue delay in such a way that contamination of the meat is avoided. In particular, measures must be taken to prevent the spillage of digestive tract contents during evisceration.

Slaughterhouse operators must follow the instructions of the competent authority to ensure that the post-mortem inspection is carried out under suitable conditions, and in particular that slaughtered animals can be inspected properly.

After post-mortem inspection:

  • parts unfit for human consumption must be removed as soon as possible from the clean sector of the establishment;
  • meat detained or declared unfit for human consumption and inedible by-products must not come into contact with meat declared fit for human consumption; and
  • viscera or parts of viscera remaining in the carcase, except for the kidneys, must be removed entirely, if possible, and as soon as possible, unless otherwise authorised by the competent authority.

After inspection and evisceration, slaughtered animals must be cleaned and chilled to not more than 4 °C as soon as possible, unless the meat is cut while warm.

When carcases are subjected to an immersion chilling process, account must be taken of the following.

  • Every precaution must be taken to avoid contamination of carcases, taking into account parameters such as carcase weight, water temperature, volume and direction of water flow and chilling time.
  • Equipment must be entirely emptied, cleaned and disinfected whenever this is necessary and at least once a day.

Sick or suspect animals, and animals slaughtered in application of disease eradication or control programmes, must not be slaughtered in the establishment except when permitted by the competent authority. In that event, slaughter must be performed under official supervision and steps taken to prevent contamination; the premises must be cleaned and disinfected before being used again.