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Code of Practice for the Harvest, Transport, Processing, and Export of Seal Products Intended for Human Consumption
Appendix I: Harvest Activities
Seal Products: Slaughter and Handling

1.0 Training

Controls must be established to ensure that seal harvesters are adequately trained in the sanitary slaughter, pelting, evisceration, and handling of products intended for human consumption.

Note: Aspects pertaining to "Humane slaughter" is the mandate of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The slaughter requirements contained in this Code of Practice pertain to the sanitary aspects of harvesting of seals for human consumption.

1.1 All harvesters must be adequately trained in the sanitary slaughter of seals which are harvested. Each harvester must be trained in the proper methods of slaughter, pelting, evisceration, handling, storage, sanitation, personal hygiene, and effective measures to ensure that contamination of the meat and fat to be processed for human consumption does not occur.

1.2 Documentation of the delivery of adequate training must be maintained. Each harvester/harvest vessel must be able to demonstrate to the CFIA, and to the processor of the seal products, that they have received adequate training which ensures that they are capable of processing acceptable food products.

1.3 A copy of the training material must be available upon request of the competent authority.

2.0 Humane Slaughter

2.1 Harvesters must ensure slaughter is conducted to ensure the animal is quickly euthanized following regulations and procedures as have been established by the competent authority.

3.0 Post Harvest: Bleeding/Sanitary Pelting/Evisceration

3.1 Once harvested the seal must be quickly and properly bled.

3.2 Once the pelt of the animal is perforated for bleeding, care must be taken to ensure that there is no contamination of the exposed fat/meat, from the time of bleeding to the time that the pelt is removed from the animal. Care must be taken at the harvest site, en route to the harvest vessel, and during handling/placement upon the harvest vessel to ensure that contamination does not occur.

3.3 The surface upon which the seal is bled must be acceptable. Once the pelt of the animal has been perforated care must be taken to ensure that foreign matter, or other sources of contamination within the harvest environment, or upon the vessel do not come into contact with exposed meat/fat. When the seal is turned belly down for bleeding, care must be taken to protect the exposed meat/fat from foreign matter and contamination. Clean snow, ice, or other suitable surface is considered to be satisfactory.

From the time of harvesting to the time of evisceration, contact with clean snow, ice, sea water, or other sanitary surface which is designed or intended for the placement of the animal is acceptable.

3.4 Pelting/Evisceration may occur at the harvest location (i.e. upon the ice), upon the harvest vessel, or under controlled conditions at a land based facility. All locations where seals are pelted/eviscerated are subject to the regulatory provisions of the Fish Inspection Regulations. The seal products must be protected from contamination at all times.

No person other than the vessel crew who were present at the harvest, may engage in pelting, evisceration or other processing of the seal, unless that processing is conducted in a registered establishment.

3.5 Following bleeding and pelting, evisceration must be conducted as soon as is practical. As a general rule evisceration should occur within several hours of harvesting. The carcass must be handled at all times in a manner so as to prevent contamination of the edible portions of the animal. Knives or any other utensils used in the pelting/evisceration/handling of the seal must be appropriate for their intended use.

3.6 If placed on the harvest vessel prior to pelting the animals must be handled in a manner to protect any exposed meat/fat surfaces. The animal shall be placed on the vessel so that any exposed meat/fat only comes in contact with a clean/sanitary surface.

3.7 Care must be taken to ensure that the gut is not perforated during evisceration. Should the gut become perforated, all affected areas of the carcass shall be immediately trimmed and discarded, up to and including the entire carcass.

3.8 Care must be taken during evisceration (conducted at the site of harvest or upon the harvest vessel) to ensure the entrails are removed in a sanitary manner. Training as to proper evisceration techniques shall be included in the training (identified in section 1.1 of this appendix). During evisceration, care must be taken to ensure that the natural leakage of intestinal contents does not serve as a source of contamination of any meat/fat intended for human consumption.

3.9 Once pelting and evisceration have been completed, the pelt and the carcass shall be immediately separated and thoroughly washed using an acceptable water supply.

3.10 The meat/fat must be quickly cooled as soon as possible following harvesting. (Immersion of whole seals in cold sea water following bleeding but prior to evisceration/pelting will foster rapid cooling of the animal). Eviscerated meat, and pelts containing fat shall be immediately cooled. The washing and immersion of meat/pelts with cold seawater will rapidly cool the product. Placement of meat/pelts upon clean sea ice will also ensure rapid cooling. Once cooled the meat/pelts must be packed and stored in a manner which will ensure that the temperature of storage does not exceed 4°C.

3.11 Once evisceration has been completed, the gut material must be discarded or otherwise handled to ensure that the meat and fat of the pelt do not make contact with gut material.

3.12 Where evisceration/pelting occurs at the harvest site, the pelts/meat shall be transported to the vessel for proper storage as soon as is possible. Care must be taken to ensure that prior to and during transport from the harvest site to the vessel that the meat and fat is not exposed to any form of contamination.

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