DOAG: Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program: Overview

This article appeared in the December 18, 2013 edition of the Ag Report.
 
 

Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program:  Overview

Wayne Nelson, Bureau of Inspection and Regulation

 

In accordance with Section 4 of Public Act 10-103 (codified as Connecticut General Statutes Section 22-326t) the Connecticut Department of Agriculture has established an inspection program for poultry producers who intend to operate a small poultry slaughter facility exempt from continuous inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) during slaughtering operations.

 

The federal Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) provides for certain exemptions to continuous inspection. These products can enter in intrastate commerce but are not permitted to move interstate.

 

Public Act 10-103 requires poultry slaughter operations that supply poultry products to household consumers, restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses to meet the requirements of the federal PPIA and any applicable provision of the Code of Federal Regulations.  These poultry products are considered an “approved food source” for local health inspectors enforcing the Connecticut Public Health Code.

 

Sales of poultry directly to the final consumer at the farm or at a farmer’s market via order are not affected by this program. Those producers who market directly to the final consumer are able to continue this practice.

 

During the 2013 legislative session, Governor Dannel P. Malloy, a strong supporter of the Connecticut Small Poultry Processing Inspection Program, introduced a proposal to add retail sales to Public Act 10-103.  This proposal was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed into law by Governor Malloy.  As a result, farmers in the Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program now can market their poultry as from an “approved food source” directly to retail establishments.

 

The Connecticut Small Poultry Processing Inspection Program is only available to producers.  Law requires each operator of a slaughter facility participating in the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program to comply with the applicable sections of the federal PPIA.  Producers taking advantage of this program must register their facility with the department and USDA FSIS.

 

Participating facilities must have an approved plan for the disposal of liquid waste and an approved plan for the disposal of offal. The processor must have an approved water supply and test the water supply every six months, or, if operated seasonally, test the water supply no more than 30 days prior to the date processing starts. (Required water testing is not applicable to municipal water supplies.)   Participants also must have an approved site bio-security protocol and have a written system of product labeling and record keeping facilitating product tracking and trace-back to the slaughter/process facility.

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture inspects each poultry slaughter facility participating in the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program at least once a year.  The inspection follows the requirements of the PPIA, including an audit of the HACCP system and an evaluation of the sanitation, sanitary practices, food-handling equipment design and construction, handling of animals, record-keeping, and water supply.

 

Participants in the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program receive a certificate of inspection and a registration number that appears on their labels. 

 

Consumers, customers, local public health officials, and inspectors with the Department of Consumer Protection can verify the status of poultry found in retail and foodservice establishments by looking up the registration number in the State of Connecticut’s e-license system at https://www.elicense.ct.gov/

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has published a compliance guide for those interested in this program, which can be downloaded at http://www.ct.gov/doag/lib/doag/inspection_regulation/ct_small_poultry_slaughter_compliance_guide_v8.5.pdf. 

 

Additional resources in food safety, production, manufacturing, and processing are available through the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension system (http://foodsafety.uconn.edu/ or 860-486-3633).    Extension is offering a safe poultry slaughter course to assist producers with designing and implementing a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.  A HACCP system is required under the PPIA and the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program.

 

It is hoped that the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program will help provide participating producers a steadier income stream and will encourage more producers to take advantage of opportunities to market poultry products to restaurants and retail establishments.  More and more consumers are demanding foods they perceive as more sustainable and local.

 

To further enhance poultry production and sales, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, along with USDA’s Farm Service Agency, has partnered with the Connecticut Poultry Association (CPA), providing grants for construction of a mobile poultry slaughter unit.  This unit should make it easier for small poultry producers to qualify birds for sale into retail and foodservice establishments.

 

It is anticipated that CPA will select two sites with water and electric hookups, one in eastern side of the state and one in the western half of the state, to accommodate the mobile poultry slaughter unit, which is currently being designed. 

 

For more information about CPA and the mobile unit, please visit http://ctpoultry.com/