DESTINATION AND SURVEILLANCE INSPECTION OF POULTRY (CHICKEN)
Section I. DESTINATION INSPECTION OF POULTRY (CHICKEN)
a. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides inspection and
grading services for poultry and poultry products at point of origin. This is always done
at the processing plants. The contractor is required to certify the grade of the product.
(This will be discussed in paragraph 2-12.)
b. The veterinary food inspection specialist is responsible for performing
inspection of poultry at destination. At destination, the veterinary food inspection
specialist must determine identity, condition, and quantity of the product.
Inspection of the product is conducted to verify that the chicken conforms to the
requirements for class, style, type, grade, and weight ranges. These requirements are
discussed in the following paragraphs.
a. Chickens are divided into classes according to age, weight, and sex of the
bird. Determination of class is difficult when the chicken is frozen.
(1) Age. Age is determined primarily by the comparative flexibility of the tip
of the breastbone, but the size and conformation of the chicken are also considered.
The cartilage at the tip of the breastbone is very flexible in young poultry. As a chicken
ages, the cartilage gradually hardens until it becomes firm and rigid. Young chickens
are rangy, the meat is light and soft, and the fat is evenly distributed. Older chickens
are more blocky, their meat is darker and tougher, and the fat is gobby or patchy.
Excessive abdominal fat is common in heavyweight fowl.
(2) Weight. Weight ranges are stated for each class of chicken in the
(3) Sex. In live birds, sex is determined by the size, shape, and
development of the head, comb, wattles, feathering, and spur. In a dressed chicken,
the male carcass is larger and more angular than that of the female, the depth from keel
bone (sternum) to back is greater, and the bones are longer. The back is flat and box-
shaped in the male, rounded in the female. The skin of the male is coarse, especially in
older chickens, with large feather follicles; the female has a smooth skin.