9 CFR 354.244 - Temperatures and cooling and freezing procedures.
Temperatures and procedures which are necessary for cooling and freezing of rabbits in accordance with sound commercial practice shall be maintained in the coolers and freezers, and chilling temperatures and procedures shall also be in accordance with sound commercial practice.
(a) Cooling. Immediately after evisceration and washing of the carcass, it shall be placed in a cooling tank containing running cold tap water to remove the animal heat from the carcass. Carcasses shall not be allowed to remain in the cooling tank for longer than 1 hour.
(b) Air chilling. Immediately after the initial water chilling, the carcasses shall be placed in cooling racks and thereupon placed in a refrigerated cooler with moderate air movements and a temperature which will reduce the internal temperature of the carcasses to from 36 °F. to 40 °F., both inclusive, within 24 hours.
(1) When ready-to-cook rabbits are packaged in bulk or shipping containers, the carcasses should be individually wrapped or packaged in water-vapor resistant cartons or the containers should be lined with heavy water-vapor resistant paper so as to assure adequate overlapping of the lining to completely surround the carcasses and to permit unsealed closure or sealing in such a manner that water-vapor loss from the product is considerably retarded or prevented. The rabbit carcasses should receive an initial rapid freezing under such packaging, temperature, air circulation, and stacking conditions which will result in freezing the carcasses solid in less than 48 hours.
(2) Frozen ready-to-cook rabbits shall be held under conditions which will maintain the product in a solidly frozen state with temperature maintained as constant as possible.
(d) Refrigeration. Immediately after packaging, all ready-to-cook rabbits, other than those which are shipped from the plant in a refrigerated carrier, should be moved into the freezer, except that a period not exceeding 72 hours will be permitted for transportation and temporary holding before placing in the freezer provided such rabbits are held at not above 36 °F.