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state authorities first before thinking about on-farm slaughter, custom slaughter and/or selling of meat is highly advisable.


Meat inspection and regulation began in 1906 Federal meat inspection was implemented after passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) in 1906 as a result of the expo- sure of unsanitary and unsafe conditions in meat plants, initially ap- plying to meat for export and then to all meat in interstate commerce. You might have read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle that purported to describe meat industry practices at the turn of that century. In 1967, the Wholesome Meat Act (WMA) required that all meat for sale be produced from animals inspected for healthfulness before slaughter and in plants having governmental inspection of san- itation and hygienic production. USDA has jurisdiction over meat, poultry and siluriform fish (catfish species) through the Food Safety and Inspection Service (Pathogen Reduction and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems) while the Food and Drug Administration has control over all other foods (Food Safety Modernization Act) as well as feed, drugs and cosmetics (Food and Drug Act).


State inspection programs A concession for passage of the WMA was for a state to have a meat inspection program, but the program was to be “equal to” and have regular audits by the federal inspection system. Currently, 27 states have state meat inspection programs for a total of 1,976 plants nationally and 25 states have poultry inspection programs. Meat sold in any venue (farmers markets, restaurants, groceries, convenience stores, butcher shops, etc.) must be produced in an in- spected facility, either state or federal. All meat for sale must originate from sources that can be traced back to the inspected slaughter and processing facility by means of the inspection legend unique to each company, i.e., that has the grant of inspection.


This means that a producer wanting to sell his goat meat or for- age beef or other meat or poultry at a farmer’s market or at their farm or ranch must have his animals slaughtered, processed and labeled in an inspected plant. This is a major deterrent to a producer wanting to eliminate some of the usual marketing channels and sell direct to customers as the number of slaughter facilities have continued to de- crease each decade since the 1970s. Obstacles to the cost effective and efficient slaughter of live- stock by small plants are the economies of scale of the big plants, the capital investments to meet the facility construction for hygiene and sanitation required in meat plants, and the daily practices and records required for good manufacturing practices (GMPs), sanitation stan- dard operating procedures (SSOPs), and hazard analysis critical con- trol point (HACCP) programs. Even though the WMA intent was to prevent foodborne ill- nesses and disease caused by meat and poultry, it did recognize that some livestock and poultry owners would want to slaughter and pro- cess their animals for their own consumption.


Slaughtering for private use


In general, owners of animals can determine if they want to sell their animals through the many marketing channels, have a custom plant slaughter their animals to produce meat for their own use or have their animals slaughtered on the farm to produce the meat, but all of these options are subject to the regulations of the state, munici- pality and county.


FSIS has Personal Use Criteria about the resulting meat product 12 Goat Rancher | November 2020


from the animal slaughtered and processed. The meat is exclusively for the private use by the owner raising the livestock, members of the owner’s household, household nonpaying guests or household employees.


The slaughter and processing of the livestock is performed by the owner of the livestock. No livestock are slaughtered that are unfit for human consumption. Specified risk materials (SRMs; neural and other tissue from ruminant species) are inedible and prohibited for use as human food. The carcass and parts cannot be prepared, packed or held under unsanitary conditions.


Since the meat products are for personal use and cannot be sold or donated, they may move across state lines without having been in- spected. All of the criteria above must be met or the livestock are not eligible to be slaughtered and processed under the personal use ex- emption, and inspection is required.


Under these criteria, there is no limit on the number of livestock that an owner may slaughter and process for his personal use. The owner is not required to reside at the same physical location as the animal.


On-farm purchases and slaughter The federal criteria allow on-farm slaughter. An individual can purchase livestock from a farm or ranch and then slaughter it onsite using the farm or ranch facilities or equipment, but the personal use requires that the person purchasing the livestock slaughters the live- stock onsite without assistance from the seller.


If the seller participates in the slaughter or processing activity, then the facility owner is subject to following the requirements for custom slaughter. Custom slaughter is when the owner delivers the animal to an approved plant; the plant provides the service of slaugh- ter, processing and labeling each package “Not for Sale”; and the owner picks up the meat products. A custom slaughter plant must meet all sanitary requirements of an inspected plant, mark custom prepared meat products “not for sale,” and keep custom prepared products separate and apart from products for sale. An inspected plant can conduct custom slaughter, but the carcasses and meat must be kept separated from inspected carcasses and products. Technically, the owner of the animal must have been established at the time of slaughter.


The regulations allow an unlimited number of owners for an animal slaughtered under custom exempt inspection, but owners must be individuals and not members of a food-buyers club, cooperative or other organized group.


FSIS has indicated that there should be a minimum portion of the animal that each individual owner should receive, but it has not given any specifics on the amount of the portion. States can set their own rules and regulations for custom and on-farm slaughter, but the stan- dards must be at least as strict as (“equal to”) the federal requirements. Details about meat and farmers markets, home delivered meats, farm to school, food hubs, online stores and custom slaughter are in FSIS Guideline for Determining Whether a Livestock Slaughter or Processing Firm is Exempt from the Inspection Requirements of the Federal Meat Inspection Act: (www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/con- nect/16a88254-adc5-48fb-b24c-3ea0b133c939/Compliance-Guide- line-LIvestock-Exemptions.pdf?MOD=AJPERES).


Local governments can have own rules The FSIS guidelines can be altered or replaced by states, mu- nicipalities and counties that can establish their own regulations and rules on custom and on-farm slaughter, including restrictions on fa-


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