The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a final rule amending the definitions and standards of classes of poultry ready for market. Effective January 1, 2014, the measure aims to “ensure that the labeling of poultry products is truthful and not misleading.”

According to FSIS, poultry classes have been defined mostly by the bird’s age and sex, but improvements in poultry feeding and management have reduced the “grow-out” period for some classes, allowing producers to have the birds ready for sale much quicker. The new classifications, which have been in the rulemaking process since 2003, reflect “more accurately and clearly describe the characteristics of poultry in the market today,” FSIS noted.

The new classifications lower the age of poultry ready for market in five classes—roaster or roasting chickens, broiler or fryer chickens, Rock Cornish game hens, capons, and fryer-roaster turkeys. Roaster chickens, for example, will have an age of eight to 12 weeks, rather than the current three to five months, and a carcass weight of at least five pounds. See Federal Register, November 3, 2011.