Annex G - Game Meat Preparation

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Table of Contents

Definitions

Game animal

means a wild animal, including an animal living in an enclosed territory under conditions of freedom similar to those of wild animals (gibier).

This would include any species of animals that were hunted or harvested in compliance with relevant federal/provincial/territorial laws in Canada. Examples could be any wild ungulate, lagomorph, bear, wild turkey and migratory/upland bird species.

Hunter

means the owner of a carcass/parts of a game animal or the representative from whom the operator of the federally registered establishment received the game meat for the purpose of preparing game animal meat products (chasseur).

Introduction

As of July 2nd, 2014, operators of federally registered establishments have been provided with a greater flexibility in the types of activities that can be carried out within their establishments.

Legislation now allows eviscerated carcasses of hunted game animals to be dressed, cut and processed within a federally registered establishment for private use only by the hunter, as long as these activities are separated from other regular activities dealing with food animals occurring in the establishment. It is important to note that game products derived from such activity will not be inspected by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and won't be eligible for interprovincial or international trade.

Section 44.1 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (MIR) prescribes all the regulatory requirements for the control over meat products derived from game animal carcasses. Operators should also be aware of all other relevant Federal, Provincial/Territorial or Municipal legislations and requirements that may affect this type of activity.

Every operator is required by the MIR to develop, implement and maintain control programs to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met. With respect to introducing and handling game animal products, the operator's control program(s) must demonstrate control over all elements presented in this Annex (as supported by the MIR) to the satisfaction of CFIA before any game meat production can be initiated by the operator. As long as an effective segregation of the activities is implemented by the operator, game meat production can be permitted at any time without the presence of CFIA staff. However, CFIA must be given advance notice by the operator of the reception of game animal carcasses and game meat production if outside the hours of operation agreed to by the President. This is done in order for CFIA to authorise the dressing, cutting and processing of game meat products as per section 32 of the MIR.

It should be noted that game animals can potentially be contaminated by chemical contaminants, natural toxins, parasites and/or bacteria. In addition, there is an increased risk of contamination associated with the handling of the meat from the time an animal is killed to when it is processed. Some game animals (e.g. bears, hares) are recognized as hosts of certain parasites or diseases. In certain cases, specific organs or tissues should also be avoided due to public health risk because of high concentration of chemicals (e.g. heavy metal) or potential zoonotic diseases. Although the hunter should be aware of the hazards affecting the game animal, it is the operator's responsibility to ensure that none of these hazards are transferred to other regulated food produced in the establishment. Operators are strongly encouraged to provide hunters with information on best practices regarding hunting practices, handling and preparation of game meat in order to avoid food poisoning. Examples of guidance are available on the Health Canada website - PDF (245 kb) and on other official Provincial/territorial authorities' websites.

Not all hunted game animal will be presented by the hunter in the same fashion (e.g. skinned vs. not skinned, whole carcass vs. split or quartered). It is, therefore, CFIA's recommendation that the operators provide clear instructions to the hunters as to what are their expectations for an appropriate presentation of a game carcass.

Operators of federally registered establishments are encouraged to review the import conditions for all countries to which they are allowed to export their meat products before initiating game animal production activities to ensure they can continue to meet all these requirements. Consult Chapter 11 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures for more details.

Please note that the requirements presented in this Annex do not apply to inspected and approved meat products derived from muskox, caribou or reindeer that have not been kept in captivity and which are admitted to and/or processed in a registered establishment for the purpose of trade. Such scenarios are possible as a result of a contractual agreement beforehand with CFIA. This agreement allows for CFIA inspection services of hunted game meat and for the processing of the derived meat products in a federal establishment in order to facilitate trading of such products interprovincially and/or out of Canada. Please contact your Area or Regional office for more information regarding the development of such contractual agreement.

1.0 Introduction of game meat products in a federally registered establishment

Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 Requirements:

44.1 (1) This section applies to meat products derived from an eviscerated game animal carcass that have not been inspected under an inspection system established for the purpose of these Regulations.

(2) The meat products shall not be admitted to a registered establishment if their condition would or would be likely to constitute a contamination hazard for other food in the registered establishment.

(3) The meat products shall not be admitted to a registered establishment unless it has the facilities and equipment required to handle them.

(5) The meat products shall not be admitted to any area of a registered establishment other than an area where food animals are dressed unless they are free of apparent defects and in the case of birds, of feathers, and, in the case of any other animal, of skin, hair, horns, antlers and hooves.

Ensuing Policy Requirements

Operators of federally registered establishments must ensure that equipment and facilities are appropriate and properly designed to deal with any game animal species detailed in their control programs. The equipment and facilities used must allow for hygienic operations and promote sanitary conditions in the registered establishment. The principles should be in line with the requirements described in Chapter 3 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures. A particular attention should be paid to the following:

  • Facilities must be properly designed in order for the game meat products to be efficiently segregated from the other meat products;
  • Equipment used must allow implementation of sanitary dressing/cutting/storing/processing procedures of the game meat products;
  • Equipment and facilities are properly designed to avoid cross-contamination with any food produced in the establishment; and
  • Operator must have appropriate installations in dealing with non-edible material derived from game animals.

Only eviscerated carcasses (as defined in subsection 2. (1) of the MIR - "eviscerate") and parts derived from game animal carcasses will be permitted to enter a registered establishment since the retained post-mortem body heat of a non-eviscerated carcass increases the risk for bacterial multiplication. Furthermore, the condition of the game carcass or parts being introduced must not constitute or likely constitute a contamination hazard for any other food produced/prepared in the registered establishment. An organoleptic evaluation of the game carcass and parts at reception to exclude any carcasses and parts that cannot be dressed, cut or processed in a sanitary manner due to excessive contamination or degeneration shall be included in the operator's control program. Consideration must be given to:

  • The storage of the carcass or parts prior to it entering the federally registered establishment as inappropriate storage might constitute a contamination hazard (i.e. time temperature abuse);
  • The environment in which the animal was killed and the handling of the carcass or parts outside the establishment by the hunter, especially at the time of the evisceration, as such activities might not have not been done under the best conditions;
  • The introduction of biological hazards as some game animals are recognized as hosts of certain parasites or diseases.

Hunted carcasses can only be introduced to an area of the establishment where a food animal carcass in a similar state of dress would be accepted. Accordingly, feathers, skin, hair, horns, antlers, hooves, claws, etc. must be removed prior to entering an evisceration room (unless the evisceration room is contiguous with the skinning/dehiding area), whilst all apparent defects must be trimmed prior to entering a cutting/boning or processing room.

Non-mandatory Items for Consideration

CFIA recommends that operators provide clear instructions to the hunter as to what is the expectation for an appropriate presentation of game carcasses. Such instructions should contain information about Good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and diseases of concern for the species in question.

In addition, the operator should request any relevant information before introducing a game animal carcass in its establishment in order to avoid the introduction of any potential risk. Examples of information that could be requested are:

  • When and how the animal was killed?
  • What was the delay before evisceration?
  • Did the animal show a deviation from normal behaviour or appearance or signs of disease at the time it was killed?

2.0 Identification of the game meat products

Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 Requirements:

44.1 (4) The identity of the meat products, except skin, hair, horns, antlers, hooves, feathers and inedible parts of the carcass, shall be maintained while they are in the registered establishment.

Ensuing Policy Requirements

Every operator shall develop, implement and maintain a written control program to ensure that the identity and traceability of any game carcass and/or its derived meat products is maintained from its reception in the establishment until the meat products are returned to the hunter. There must be a clear distinction between products derived from game animals and products derived from inspected food animals at all steps of production. Risk of potential mix shall be avoided.

Game meat products that are determined inedible by the operator or those considered inedible by nature such as the skin, hair, horns, antlers, hooves, feathers, claws, etc. do not have to be correlated to the carcass. Such product must, as per principles of sections 41 and 54 of the MIR, be conveyed immediately and directly to the inedible products area. The operator must implement appropriate procedures to ensure the inedible material derived from a game animal is separated from any inedible material derived from a food animal. Consult section 5.0 of this policy.

The hunter wishing to retrieve any specific inedible portion of a game carcass must advise the operator of this at reception in order for the operator to take appropriate measures to properly identify the portion requested and prevent its contamination from other inedible products.

Non-mandatory Items for Consideration

None.

3.0 Segregation of the game meat products

Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 Requirements:

44.1 (6) Subject to subsections (7) to (9), the meat products shall not be handled or stored in a room of a registered establishment in which meat products derived from a food animal are present.

(7) A dressed carcass that is free of apparent defects may be stored together with meat products derived from a food animal if there is no contact, either direct or indirect, between the carcass and the meat products.

(8) Meat products that are derived from a dressed carcass and that are packaged and bear a label indicating the name of the person from whom they were received and the species of game animal from which they are derived may be stored in the same room of a registered establishment where meat products from a food animal are stored.

(9) Meat products that are derived from a dressed carcass may be handled in the same room as meat products derived from a food animal for the purpose of combining the two types of meat products.

(12) If the meat product or a part of it is dressed, boned, cut up, processed, or otherwise handled in a registered establishment, the utensils, equipment, room or area used shall be cleaned and sanitized before any food animal meat product is dressed, boned, cut up, processed, or otherwise handled in the room or area.

Ensuing Policy Requirements

Operators shall develop, implement and maintain a control program to ensure that the meat products derived from game animals is clearly segregated, in time and/or in space, from all other meat products derived from inspected and approved food animals. All facilities and equipment used during the dressing, boning, cutting, processing or handling of the game meat product must be adequately clean and sanitized prior to their use for food animal meat production.

The meat products derived from a game animal must not be handled or stored in a room of a registered establishment in which meat products derived from a food animal are present. Exceptions exist for the following scenarios:

  • A fully identified, dressed game carcass/side/quarter that is free of apparent defects may be stored together with any other carcass or meat product derived from a food animal if there is no contact, either direct or indirect, between the game carcass/side/quarter and the food animal meat products, as the case may be; and
  • Game meat products may be handled in the same room as any meat products derived from a food animal for the purpose of combining the two types of meat products. Any unused exposed meat product derived from a food animal present in the area where game meat products was handled is no longer eligible to bear the Meat Inspection Legend and it must be treated as game meat product.
  • Meat products that are derived from a game animal carcass and that are packaged and bear a proper label indicating the name of the person from whom they were received and the species of game animal from which they are derived may be stored in the same room of a registered establishment where meat products from a food animal are stored.
  • Game meat products considered inedible can be stored and handled in the inedible products area. However, the operator must implement appropriate procedures to ensure the inedible material derived from a game animal is kept separate from any inedible material derived from a food animal (consult section 5.0 of this policy).

Non-mandatory Items for Consideration

Operators of federally registered establishments that handle game animals should ensure that these are processed as a definable group. The CFIA strongly recommends that the dressing, boning, cutting, processing or handling of the game meat products proceed at the end of the production shift preceding the sanitation shift, in order to facilitate operational control. If an operator chooses to dress, bone, cut, process or handle game meat products using alternative methodology, the operator must demonstrate to the VIC/IIC (Veterinarian in-charge/Inspector in charge) that operational sanitation and segregation controls are able to achieve the same outcome.

4.0 Labelling and ownership of game meat products

Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 Requirements:

44.1 (10) Sections 89 to 120 do not apply to a meat product.

(11) A meat product that is intended for use as food that is removed from a registered establishment, or the outer receptacle or covering used in connection with the meat product, shall bear a label indicating

(a) the species of game animal from which the meat product is derived; and

(b) the name of the person from whom the meat product was received.

(13) The meat shall be returned to the person from whom it was received together with any food with which it has been combined and, on request of that person, any of the other meat products from the same animal.

Ensuing Policy Requirements

No game meat carcass or products derived from it, for the purpose of this policy, can be identified with the official mark (i.e. meat inspection legend). The labelling requirements presented in section 89 to 120 of the MIR applicable to meat products derived from food animals, do not apply to the game meat carcass or the products derived from it. Similarly, when applicable, any exposed meat product which is derived from federally inspected and approved food animals at the time of preparation (e.g. combination of pork meat with deer meat to prepare a sausage) is no longer eligible to bare the Meat Inspection Legend and it must be treated as game meat products. The operator has the option of properly identifying and storing the exposed meat product(s) as game meat product(s) until needed, returning the exposed meat product(s) to the hunter or treating the exposed meat product(s) as inedible material.

Operators shall develop, implement and maintain a control program which maintains traceability of game meat through the entire production, from reception to delivery to the hunter, and to ensure that the identification of all meat products derived from game animals is clearly indicated and that the label is maintained until the meat can be returned to the hunter.

The label identifying the receptacle or package must, as a minimum, contain the following information:

  • the species of game animal from which the meat product is derived; and
  • the name of the hunter.

All the meat derived from a game meat animal or meat products derived from combination with that meat must be returned to the hunter.

Non-mandatory Items for Consideration

As a best practice, an operator may wish to indicate additional relevant information such as the date of production and/or packaging date and/the durable life and/or the net quantity etc. to the label of any packaged meat product which is derived from game animal carcasses. This can be done as long as such packaged meat products cannot be easily mistaken from packaged meat products derived from a food animals (i.e. with meat products complying with the labelling requirements of the MIR).

On request of the hunter, any inedible meat products derived from a game animal may be returned to the hunter. The operator should appropriately label and identify such products in line with the requirement presented in this section if that is the case.

5.0 Inedible derived from game meat products

Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 Requirements:

41. All skin, hair and feathers removed from carcasses in a registered establishment shall be taken forthwith to the inedible products area in a manner that prevents contamination of any edible meat product.

54. (1) Every meat product that is condemned in a registered establishment, other than a condemned meat product sent by an inspector for laboratory examination or a meat product referred to in subsection 85(2), shall be identified as condemned, conveyed immediately to the inedible products area of the establishment and

e) in the case of meat products that are judged by an official veterinarian to be unacceptable for rendering due to dangerous residues or for other reasons, disposed of in accordance with local environmental requirements; or

Feeds Regulations, 1983 Requirements:

19. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a feed shall not contain

(d.2) proteins in any form derived from the carcass of an animal other than

(i) a fish, or
(ii) a food animal, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990, that was slaughtered for human consumption as food or was raised for slaughter for human consumption as food;

Ensuing Policy Requirements

Tissue determined to be inedible during processing operations or those considered inedible by nature such as the skin, hair, horns, antlers, hooves, feathers, claws, etc. can be returned to the hunter provided the hunter informs the operator of this specific request. Storage of such material must not create potential cross contamination of any food products. Furthermore, such material must be segregated from inedible waste derived from food animal to ensure that no inedible waste derived from food animal be inappropriately given to the hunter, as well to ensure that this material not be contaminated by condemned food animal waste. This segregation process must be well defined in the operators control program.

The Feeds Regulations, 1983 stipulates that feeds may not contain proteins in any form derived from the carcass of an animal other than a fish, or a food animal, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990, that was slaughtered for human consumption as food or was raised for slaughter for human consumption as food. Game animals as described in this policy are not considered food animal under the MIR. Accordingly, inedible products derived from these animals cannot go to rendering or feed. These inedible products are not eligible for use as animal food. Inedible products can be disposed of in accordance with the relevant municipal and provincial environmental regulations (i.e. by burial at an approved site or incineration). The operator could also elect to send the product as a SRM material or destroy the material using a method approved by CFIA for the destruction of prions. The operator should contact the CFIA Feeds personnel to discuss such matter and determine the most appropriate practices.

Non-mandatory Items for Consideration

None.

6.0 Other Non-mandatory Elements for Consideration

Certain species of wild game animals may require to be tested (e.g. Chronic Wasting Disease in cervids) as mandated by the province/territory. It is normally the hunter's or the hunt farm owner's responsibility to send the appropriate sample(s) to the laboratory for the purpose of such mandated (or voluntary) testing. CFIA recommends that operators have contact information readily available for submission of samples to the appropriate laboratory for such testing program. Alternatively, an operator may agree to send the appropriate samples on the hunter's behalf.

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