WASHINGTON – The Food Safety and Inspection Service is seeking comments on a proposed rule that would change the age and ready-to-cook carcass weight requirements for roasting chickens, or “roasters.” Comments are due on or before Oct. 19.

The US Dept. of Agriculture defines a roaster as “a young chicken (between 8 and 12 weeks of age), of either sex, with a ready-to-cook carcass (RTC) weight of 5 lbs. 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.”

The proposed rule change stems from a petition submitted in 2013 by the National Chicken Council (NCC). NCC argued that improvements in breeding and technology have enabled poultry growers to produce chickens younger than the agency’s minimum age requirements for roasters, but with the physical characteristics of roasters. The council asked FSIS to amend the age and weight requirements.
In its petition, NCC said the current standard “would detract from the orderly and efficient marketing of classes of poultry because companies would be unable to label and market chickens with the RTC weight and other physical attributes of a roaster as roasters because of the minimum age requirement,” FSIS said in a notice of proposed rulemaking.

FSIS is seeking comment on the merits of raising the RTC carcass weight to 5.5 lbs. from 5 lbs. and eliminating the minimum age. Specifically, the agency is interested in the potential impact such a change would have on small poultry producers.

Comments can be sent by mail or submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.