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Archived - Annex P: CFIA Protocol for Evaluating Bulk Container Freezing Processes for Meat Products

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P.1 Introduction

This protocol sets out the steps operators are to follow when developing a method for freezing meat products (e.g. carcasses, carcass portions and offal) in bulk containers (hereinafter "bulk container freezing"). In order to validate their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, operators must show that their processes reduce the core temperature of these products to -18°C within a time frame allowing for the preservation of organoleptic and microbiological qualities.

P.2 Scope

The following processes must be evaluated in accordance with the present protocol:

Additional conditions may apply if freezing is intended to prepare products for subsequent treatment (e.g., to destroy trichinosis or cysticercosis parasite).

The present protocol does not cover situations in which products that have not reached a core temperature of 4°C are placed in bulk containers for freezing purposes. Processes that involve this approach (i.e. placing products that have not yet reached this temperature in bulk containers) are subject to the requirements set out in section 4.5.3: Alternative cooling processes, of Chapter 4, Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures.

P.3 Prerequisites for freezing meat products in bulk containers

P.4 Submitting the request for in-plant testing to the inspector

Before a bulk container freezing process can be adopted, testing needs to be done to identify potential shortcomings. The management of the establishment must submit the following documents before testing can be authorized.

Item No. 1. A letter from management containing:

Item No. 2. The dated test protocol specifying:

Note: When responsibility for ensuring the microbiological quality of frozen products in bulk containers is to be shared between two or more establishments, the cover letter and the test protocol must be signed by the management of all the establishments concerned.

P.5 CFIA decision on whether the testing may be authorized

The inspector who receives the request determines whether it includes all of the information required. With the assistance of the program specialist, the inspector determines whether the request appears to be compatible with sound hygiene practices and whether any changes need to be made to the protocol before the testing can be conducted. Together with the program specialist, the inspector gives the go-ahead for the testing when he/she is satisfied that the test protocol is complete and acceptable.

P.6 Conducting the test

The operator must conduct the test in compliance with the approved test protocol. The operator must inform the inspector in writing if it becomes necessary to modify the protocol before, during or after the test. The inspector may temporarily halt the test to discuss protocol changes with the program specialist. The inspector may also require that the test be stopped if changes are made to the protocol without his/her knowledge.

P.7 Test report: analysing and submitting collected data

The operator is responsible for collecting and analysing data gathered during testing and submitting them to the inspector within the agreed time frame. To this end, the operator will submit a report to the inspector. The report must be prepared in such a manner that anyone who reviews the report (e.g., foreign auditor) has all of the necessary information. Therefore, the test report must include the following:

P.8 CFIA approval

The inspector will review the report submitted by the operator to ensure that it is complete and to assess its content. This involves determining whether the conditions described in the report clearly reflect what he/she knows to be true about the conditions in which the test was conducted and whether the operator satisfactorily explained all of the results that raised questions, in the "discussion" section. If the report is incomplete, the inspector will ask the operator to review the sections in question. When the report is deemed complete, the inspector will forward it to the program specialist with his/her comments on the report's content. The program specialist will then determine whether the proposed process is acceptable and recommend that the inspector authorize or reject the bulk container freezing process for meat products.

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