USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) yesterday published in the Federal Register its final rule amending the definitions and standards for the various official U.S. classes of poultry. FSIS said the changes will “more accurately and clearly describe the characteristics of poultry in the market today.”

For chicken, FSIS used the criteria of age, weight, and flexibility of the breastbone to classify the birds.  FSIS proposed to amend the definitions and standards on September 29, 2003.  Further, on July 13, 2009, FSIS issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to re-propose the definition and standard for “roaster” or “roasting chicken” and provide new information.

With respect to chicken, the following definitions and standards will take effect on January 1, 2014.  These are:

  • Rock Cornish game hen or Cornish game hen. A “Rock Cornish game hen” or “Cornish game hen” is a young, immature chicken (less than 5 weeks of age), of either sex, with a ready-to-cook carcass weight of not more than 2 pounds.
  • Broiler or fryer.  A “broiler” or “fryer” is a young chicken (less than 10 weeks of age), of either sex, that is tender-meated with soft, pliable, smooth-textured skin and flexible breastbone cartilage.
  • Roaster or roasting chicken. A “roaster” or “roasting chicken” is a young chicken (between 8 and 12 weeks of age) of either sex, with a ready-to-cook carcass weight of 5 pounds or more, that is tender-meated with soft, pliable, smooth-textured skin and breastbone cartilage that is somewhat less flexible than that of a broiler or fryer.
  •  Capon. A “capon” is a surgically neutered male chicken (less than 4 months of age) that is tender-meated with soft, pliable, smooth-textured skin.
  • Hen, fowl, baking chicken, or stewing chicken. A “hen,” “fowl,” “baking chicken,” or “stewing chicken” is an adult female chicken (more than 10 months of age) with meat less tender than that of a roaster or roasting chicken and a nonflexible breastbone tip.
  • Cock or rooster. A “cock” or “rooster” is an adult male chicken with coarse skin, toughened and darkened meat, and a nonflexible breastbone tip.

The Federal Register notice is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-11-03/html/2011-28525.htm.

 

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