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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Current Regulations Affecting Sale of Poultry Products or Ready-to-Cook Poultry by Small Producers

Livestock Update, October 1998

Phillip J. Clauer, Poultry Extension Specialist, Small Flocks/4-H Youth, Virginia Tech

With the increased interest in organic, range and small-scale poultry meat production, I commonly get questions about regulations governing the sale of fresh dressed poultry.

The person responsible for enforcement is Thomas B. Hall at the VDAC Office of Meat and Poultry Services at (804) 786-1495. Tom sent me the regulations which I will try to summarize in this article. After reviewing the regulations fine detail, there are 3 options for Virginia producers.

  1. For small producers, you are exempt from any regulations if you meet the following exemption to the provisions of the Federal Act - 9CFR Ch. III (1-1-97) edition of Food Safety and inspection service (meat and poultry) USDA.

    "The provisions of the Act and the regulations do not apply to any poultry producer with respect to poultry, of his own raising on his own farm, which he slaughters if:

  2. Such producer slaughters not more than 1,000 poultry during the calendar year for which this exemption is being determined;

  3. Such poultry producer does not engage in buying or selling poultry products other than those produced from poultry raised on his own farm; and

  4. None of such poultry moves in "commerce (as defined in §381.1)."

  5. If you produce 1,000 to 20,000 birds for slaughter annual, it is required that all poultry products offered for sale either is exempted under public law 9-492 or be State of Virginia or Federally inspected.

To apply for an exemption you must meet the following general requirements:

  1. Purpose

    1. To prescribe requirements that must be met prior to approval for a poultry exemption by a "producer grower," a "producer grower or other person," or a "small business enterprise."

    2. To ensure that the "producer grower," "producer grower or other person," or "small business enterprise" produce a wholesome and unadulterated product.

  2. Authority

    Code of Virginia 1950 as amended §3,1-884 and Public Law 90-492.

  3. Application for Poultry Exemption

    1. Complete VDACS Form 03072A (Application for Permit of Poultry Exemption) and submit to the OIC, Compliance Staff, Office of Meat and Poultry Services, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, VA 23218.

    2. The Compliance staff representative will arrange a review of facilities to ensure that the poultry will be slaughtered and processed in a sanitary manner in order for a wholesome and unadulterated product to be produced.

  4. Label Requirements

    1. Labels shall contain the following information:
      1. Processor's full name
      2. Processor's full address and zip code
      3. Statement - exempted under Public law 90-492
      4. Virginia exemption number
      5. Safe food handling labels stating "keep refrigerated" shall be applied to products. These labels shall not state "inspected and passed."
      6. Species produced, i.e., chicken-duck-turkey

  5. Label Approval

    1. Poultry exempt label shall be approved by OIC, Compliance Staff.

  6. General Requirements

    1. Sanitation and Facilities. Sanitation and maintenance of facilities during slaughtering and processing must be accomplished in a manner to ensure the production of wholesome, unadulterated products. Product must be handled and processed without becoming adulterated.

    2. Water supply. Potable water must be used in areas where poultry is slaughtered, eviscerated, and dressed, and where edible products are processed, handled, and stored. The distribution system within the facility must preclude contamination of the water supply. A current (annual for municipal water supply or semiannual for a private well) certification from the responsible authority attesting to the potability of the water supply must be on file in the facility.

    3. Sewage and Waste Disposal. Sewage and waste disposal systems must not contribute to product adulteration.

    4. Pest Control. The facility's pest control must be capable of preventing product adulteration.

    5. Inedible Material Control. One of the following methods must be used to prevent the entrance of inedible poultry products into human food channels: rendering, burial, cremation, or composting.

    6. Acceptable refrigeration must be available to prevent product spoilage.

    7. Poultry must be healthy at time of slaughter.

    8. MPS representatives shall have the opportunity to observe slaughter and processing operations.

    9. Yearly reviews may be conducted by MPS representatives to ensure compliance.

  7. Failure to Comply

    Deviations from the required procedures to produce a wholesome and unadulterated product may be cause to withdraw the right to use the poultry exempt label; violations may require legal action.

    1. Surveillance

      The compliance staff shall conduct unannounced reviews to ensure compliance.

      1. Large producers raising more than 20,000 poultry for slaughtering, fall under the same federal regulations as the commercial poultry industry. These regulations are extensive and are capital intensive to meet. Contact Thomas Hall for these regulations.

Hopefully, this will help readers understand the regulations required for raising and slaughtering poultry for sale and use.

As a side note: It is good practice to consider the safe food handling information of the exemption requirements even if you produce and sell less than 1,000 birds annually to protect your customers, as well as yourself.

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