Meat Processing

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring safety and labeling of all meat, poultry and egg products.  Federal Meat and Poultry Products Inspection Acts require inspection of all meat, poultry and egg products sold in interstate and foreign commerce.

Basics about inspection are outlined in a USDA fact sheet:

  • Industry is accountable for safe food
  • FSIS inspects each animal carcass, verifies safety standards and enforces violations
  • Slaughter facilities cannot slaughter animals without federal inspection person present
  • Only federally inspected products can be sold across state lines or to foreign countries
  • To receive federal inspection, facility must receive official Grant of Inspection.  Cattle slaughter and processing facilities must keep written record of removing, segregating and disposing of parts known to carry “mad cow disease”  - including brain, skull, eyes and others - to prevent contamination of food supply
  • Inspection begins before slaughter, when animal arrives at facility, and continues through disposal

For more information about the inspection process, including the disposal of carcasses, penalties for non-compliance and other details, visit the FSIS website.

Food producers have the option to apply for federal or state inspection. State programs must enforce requirements “at least equal” to federal guidelines. However, product produced under state inspection only is limited to intrastate commerce. 

When Culture Clashes with Policy
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Federal guidelines were written for the cattle industry, but apply to the processing of all types of meats. And, in Indian Country - where the buffalo is regarded as sacred for its cultural and nutritional values - policy creates challenges.

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Seafood and
Canning

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety of fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables and other foods that are processed, canned and sold. 

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Safe Food at
Pow Wows

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Producers who also prepare and/or sell foods at pow wows are responsible for keeping food safe. Since policy varies, check with your tribal or local sanitation or health department to know food-handling and temperature requirements.  

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