Language selection


Operational guideline: Poultry ante-mortem inspection

On this page

1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Inspection Staff on procedures for conducting poultry ante-mortem inspection under section 139 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in Section 3.0.

The guidance outlined below should be used when conducting ante-mortem inspection in poultry slaughter establishments (except ratites and game animals).

2.0 Authorities

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Unless specified below, the definitions are located in the:

5.0 Acronyms

Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.

6.0 Operational Guideline

An ante-mortem inspection within 24 hours before the slaughter of a food animal is a regulatory requirement under the SFCR (section 139). It is the operator's responsibility to present a sample of shipment of food animals, the food animal information document (FAID) and results of FAID review to the CFIA within 24 hours before the slaughter of a food animal.

CFIA has the following duties for ante-mortem inspection of poultry:

Unless specified in sections below or required otherwise by an international requirement, in addition to a CFIA veterinary inspector, components of ante-mortem inspection can be completed by a CFIA inspector under the supervision of a CFIA veterinary inspector.

In case of the first lot in the morning, an adequately trained CFIA inspector could be assigned to perform ante-mortem inspection without supervision of a veterinary inspector until the arrival and/or availability of a CFIA veterinary inspector.

6.1 Visual inspection of a sample of shipment of the birds

Visually inspect a sample that is representative of the shipment that the bird is a part of while the bird is in a crate, either on or off the conveyance or while the bird is in the shackles before stunning.

Observe birds for any deviation from normal physiology, behaviour or appearance.

Inspect 5 to 10% of the birds on each shipment. According to epidemiological principles for disease investigation, it is recommended that 290 birds be examined for a shipment of 5000 birds, allowing therefore for detection of a condition with 1% prevalence with a 95% confidence level. If needed, inspector or veterinary inspector may request a larger or different sample as deemed necessary.

If a CFIA inspector finds deviations from normal behaviour or appearance in the birds, the CFIA inspector will ask the operator to hold the shipment for veterinary inspection.

6.2 Review of the food animal information document (FAID)

FAID review by the CFIA should be conducted before the slaughter of birds. Refer to section below for missing FAID.

Review the FAID for each shipment of birds (except for game animals).

Verify availability and accuracy of all information required by SFCR 165(1). Verify adequacy of dosage, method of administration and withdrawal period for medications and vaccinations; verify adequacy of withdrawal of feed and water and attestation.

Poultry industry has developed standardized documents called 'flock sheets'. Additional documentation may be required if all information required by the SFCR is not presented in the flock sheets.

The operator may present the information required by SFCR 165(1) in a hard copy or an electronic format.

6.3 Review of operator's results of the examination of the FAID

Presentation procedures for ante-mortem inspection require an operator to present to the CFIA the results of examination of the documents conducted by the operator for accuracy, completeness and hazards (biological, chemical and physical).

6.4 Communication of the results of ante-mortem inspection to the operator

In consultation with the operator, CFIA veterinarian with supervisory authority is to select a consistent method of reliably communicating the results of ante-mortem inspection to the operator. Possible ways could be:

Once ante-mortem inspection is complete, CFIA will communicate the results of ante-mortem inspection to the operator using one of the pre-determined method(s) of communication.

6.5 Completing ante-mortem inspection records

The information collected at ante-mortem inspection is to be recorded on form Poultry Record of Antemortem (CFIA/ACIA 5476). Refer to the explanation page of the form for the details of information to be recorded.

6.6 Special circumstances

Under certain circumstances, one or more of the following actions will be required in order to complete ante-mortem inspection:

6.6.1 Extra-label use of medications

For birds exposed to extra-label medication(s) during last 120 days of the life of a bird that has been used for breeding or egg production or in respect of the entire life of any other bird, verify availability of:

  • a copy of the prescription that was issued by a veterinarian
  • an attestation by a competent person or body with respect to the withdrawal period for that administration. The following documents are acceptable:
    • Canadian Association of Poultry Practitioners (CAPP) or Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (CgFARAD) report showing a withdrawal period;
    • a copy of the Emergency Drug Release (EDR) form issued by the VDD, Health Canada, including the withdrawal period; or
    • a copy of the permit for the vaccine issued by the Veterinary Biologics Section (VBS) of the CFIA and a copy of the label showing a withdrawal period.

Verify that the documents provided as well as the withdrawal period observed are acceptable.

Shipments of birds treated with extra label medication(s) and for which a copy of a veterinary prescription and one of the documents above cannot be obtained may be slaughtered using "Hold and Test" regime. In such cases, verify:

  • operator's actions for held shipment (refer to section below)
  • operator's actions for missing supporting documentation (refer to section below)
  • acceptability of lab results (refer to section below)

6.6.2 CFIA assessment of lab results

In cases of suspected or confirmed exposure to a chemical hazard, the operator may present laboratory results to the CFIA. A Veterinary inspector may consider the results satisfactory if:

  • the report is issued by a laboratory accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) or a provincial or university laboratory using an internationally accepted method for the specific veterinary drug or its corresponding metabolite;
  • samples from the treated flock submitted to the laboratory were collected, under the supervision of a provincially licensed veterinary poultry practitioner, from live birds which were representative of the flock; and
  • the laboratory report indicates compliance with the applicable Canadian Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) or indicates that there was no detectable residue of the drug or applicable metabolite in case of Extra-label Drug Use (ELDU).

If the results do not meet these criteria, the operator's assessment of results and operator's action plan for the product should be submitted to the Operational Guidance and Expertise (OGE) using the prescribed communication chain and methodology. Inform the operator that the results might be forwarded to Health Canada and that this might impact the time taken for CFIA assessment.


It is the regulated party's responsibility to identify a lab as well as the tests to be performed on the flocks suspected of drug residues (or disease).

6.6.3 Missing or incomplete FAID and / or supporting documentation

It is up to the operator to decide what action will be taken when the FAID or a supporting document is missing or is incomplete. CFIA will verify that the operator's actions do not lead to humane handling, food safety (including cross-contamination) or environmental contamination issues.

In addition, the CFIA will implement additional evisceration line tests e.g. evisceration standards test, final Critical Control Point (CCP) testing, Modernized Poultry Inspection Program (MPIP) tests etc.

6.6.4 Suspect, segregated and held shipments Verify segregation of shipment of live birds
  • Verify that the operator has adequately segregated shipments of birds that require segregation due to abnormalities in physiology, behaviour or appearance or suspected or confirmed exposure to biological or chemical hazards.
  • Verify that the segregated shipments are adequately identified.
  • Verify adequacy of operator's plan of identifying and segregating the suspect shipment throughout the slaughter, evisceration, chilling and post-chill processing.
  • If operator's identification of the segregated shipment is inadequate, the CFIA inspector or veterinary inspector must identify these shipments with a CFIA identification device (e.g. a tag). Veterinary disposition of a held shipment(s)

The disposition of a held shipment can only be made by a veterinary inspector or by an inspector under supervision of a veterinary inspector. The disposition decisions may be one of the following:

  • release without further restrictions during slaughter or further processing
  • release with some restrictions during slaughter or further processing
  • immediate slaughter for humane reasons
  • hold and test if a disease or drug residue is suspected
  • condemned Verify operator's actions for the condemned birds
  • condemned birds are identified as inedible;
  • condemned birds are segregated with other condemned birds or isolated if, because of its condition, it presents a risk to other birds or it requires protection from other birds;
  • condemned birds are humanely killed; and
  • the carcass and any blood collected from the condemned bird are identified as inedible. Verify cleanliness and disinfection, where needed
  • Verify that slaughter floor, equipment, yards, etc., which have been used to hold or move suspect or condemned birds, are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, as judged to be necessary by the CFIA Veterinary inspector.
  • Verify that the trucks and crates used to convey birds of suspect or condemned flocks are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, as judged to be necessary by the CFIA Veterinary inspector. Veterinary disposition of a held shipment(s)
  • Complete Ante-Mortem Veterinary Inspection Report Ante-Mortem Screening Record (CFIA/ACIA 1438) for shipments held for veterinary inspection.
  • Enter full details for e.g. flock identification, owner's name and address, reason for condemnation etc.

6.6.5 Implement FAD contingency plan

Should the CFIA veterinary inspector suspect a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD), the FAD contingency plan will go into effect.

6.7 CFIA actions for non-compliances identified during ante-mortem inspection

Refer to CFIA's Compliance Verification System (CVS) policy on completion of unscheduled verification findings (stumble on) and triggered CVS tasks.

6.7.1 Verifying operator's compliance with record retention requirements

When conducting a CVS task, verify that operator is retaining ante-mortem records for a period stated in SFCR 166(2).

6.8 CFIA poultry ante-mortem forms

6.9 Record retention

Retain the completed CFIA poultry ante-mortem forms for the following periods:

Retain the CVS records as per CVS policy.

For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF).

7.0 Frequently asked questions

7.1 Is review of advanced copy of FAID mandatory?

CFIA review of the advanced copy of the FAID for each scheduled lot is no longer a regulatory requirement. Therefore review of advance copy of FAID is not required to complete ante-mortem inspection. The CFIA may, however, request the operator to implement this if there have been instances where such review was important for CFIA's resource planning. The CFIA may also implement this upon request of the operator (for e.g. for assistance with drug residues), if resources available to the CFIA make it feasible.

7.2 What is CFIA's role in review of FAID for violative drug use?

CFIA's role is to verify that the required information is provided in the FAID and the supporting documents. It is not CFIA's role to provide the operator with information like withdrawal times (i.e. to contact CgFARAD) or to identify ELDU for the operator. It is also not CFIA's role to train operator employees in identifying violative drug use.

7.3 Who should I contact to obtain the Canadian Association of Poultry Practitioners (CAPP) Reference table?

CAPP reference table lists historical ELDU decisions by the CgFARAD. Since it is not CFIA's role to provide the information like withdrawal times (i.e. to contact CgFARAD), CgFARAD information provided by the operator should be adequate to verify withdrawal times for ELDU.

Date modified: