(a) General. Temperatures and procedures that are necessary for chilling and freezing ready-to-cook poultry, including all edible portions thereof, must be in accordance with operating procedures that ensure the prompt removal of the animal heat, preserve the condition and wholesomeness of the poultry, and assure that the products are not adulterated.
(b) Chilling performance standards, except for ratites.
(i) Each official poultry slaughter establishment must ensure that all poultry carcasses, parts, and giblets are chilled immediately after slaughter operations so that there is no outgrowth of pathogens, unless such poultry is to be frozen or cooked immediately at the official establishment.
(ii) Previously chilled poultry carcasses and major portions must be kept chilled so that there is no outgrowth of the pathogens, unless such poultry is to be packed and frozen immediately at the official establishment.
(2) After product has been chilled, the establishment must prevent the outgrowth of pathogens on the product as long as the product remains at the establishment.
(3) The establishment must develop, implement, and maintain written procedures for chilling that address, at a minimum, the potential for pathogen outgrowth, the conditions affecting carcass chilling, and when its chilling process is completed. The establishment must incorporate these procedures into its HACCP plan, or sanitation SOP, or other prerequisite program.
(c) Ice and water chilling.
(1) Only ice produced from potable water may be used for ice and water chilling, except that water and ice used for chilling may be reused in accordance with § 416.2(g). The ice must be handled and stored in a sanitary manner.
(i) Poultry chilling equipment must be operated in a manner consistent with meeting the applicable pathogen reduction performance standards for raw poultry products as set forth in § 381.94 and the provisions of the establishment's HACCP plan.
(ii) Major portions of poultry carcasses, as defined in § 381.170(b)(22), may be chilled in water and ice.
(d) Water absorption and retention.
(1) Poultry washing, chilling, and draining practices and procedures must be such as will minimize water absorption and retention at time of packaging.
(2) The establishment must provide scales, weights, identification devices, and other supplies necessary to conduct water tests.
(e) Air chilling. Air chilling is the method of chilling raw poultry carcasses and parts predominately with air. An antimicrobial intervention may be applied with water at the beginning of the chilling process, provided that its use does not result in any net pick-up of water or moisture during the chilling process. The initial antimicrobial intervention may result in some temperature reduction of the product, provided that the majority of temperature removal is accomplished exclusively by chilled air.
(1) Ready-to-cook poultry which is to be or is labeled with descriptive terms such as “fresh frozen,” “quick frozen” or “frozen fresh” or any other term implying a rapid change from a fresh state to a frozen state shall be placed into a freezer within 48 hours after initial chilling in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section. During this period, if such poultry is not immediately placed into a freezer after chilling and packaging, it shall be held at 36 °F. or lower.
(2) Ready-to-cook poultry shall be frozen in a manner so as to bring the internal temperature of the birds at the center of the package to 0 °F. or below within 72 hours from the time of entering the freezer. Such procedures shall not apply to raw poultry product described in § 381.129(b)(6)(i) of this subchapter.
(3) Upon written request, and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Administrator, in specific cases, ready-to-cook poultry which is to be frozen immediately may be moved from the official establishment prior to freezing: Provided, That the plant and freezer are so located and such necessary arrangements are made that the Inspection Service will have access to the freezing room and adequate opportunity to determine compliance with the time and temperature requirements specified in paragraph (f)(2) of this section.
(4) Warm packaged ready-to-cook poultry which is to be chilled by immediate entry into a freezer within the official establishment shall within 2 hours from time of slaughter be placed in a plate freezer or a freezer with a functioning circulating air system where a temperature of −10 °F. or lower is maintained.
(5) Frozen poultry shall be held under conditions which will maintain the product in a solidly frozen state with temperature maintained as constant as possible under good commercial practice.
[37 FR 9706, May 16, 1972, as amended at 39 FR 4568, 4569, Feb. 5, 1974; 40 FR 42338, Sept. 12, 1975; 49 FR 9411, Mar. 13, 1984; 60 FR 44412, Aug. 25, 1995; 63 FR 48960, Sept. 11, 1998; 66 FR 1771, Jan. 9, 2001; 66 FR 19714, Apr. 17, 2001; 66 FR 22905, May 7, 2001; 79 FR 49634, Aug. 21, 2014]