Current Situation Update:

The recent closures of various slaughter establishments around the region due to COVID-19 will disrupt traditional animal markets and the meat supply chain. The MDA is working on options to help combat this disruption and will provide additional opportunities for livestock producers looking for slaughter facilities.

Currently, we are reviewing and accepting custom exempt slaughter establishments that would like to process animals under continuous inspection through an expedited approval process. If these establishments meet the minimum requirements, they will be granted a 90-day provisional grant of inspection. This will hopefully aid in the need for slaughter of livestock and poultry during the COVID-19 crisis. Written resources and template food safety plans are available to assist establishments in meeting non-facility related requirements in an expedited manner. Find these resources under HACCP and SSOP Information.

If you are interested in this process, please contact us.

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Here is a little background information to help you understand meat and poultry processing and the different inspection types.

Continuous Inspection

Continuous inspection is required for any business that wishes to sell their products to other retail outlets such as grocery stores, restaurants, or other food service institutions. Continuous inspection means that the business’s process is inspected every day during operations to ensure they are producing safe food. In a slaughter processing facility, every animal is inspected to determine that the meat comes from an animal free from signs of disease.

There are two types of continuous inspection:

Federal inspection

Businesses that want to produce and sell their products in other states and/or for export to other countries must be inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). These businesses may slaughter their own animals or purchase their products from other FSIS/USDA inspected sources and further process these products under continuous inspection.

Minnesota State "Equal To" USDA Inspection Program or E2 Inspection

Minnesota is one of 27 states currently operating Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs that are considered at least equal to the federal meat and poultry inspection program (USDA). This means establishments in Minnesota’s "Equal To" (E2) program can slaughter animals and process products to sell, distribute, and wholesale to any entity within the state of Minnesota.

Retailers, restaurants, distributors, schools, food shelves and other entities can buy and serve meat and poultry from Minnesota establishments participating in the E2 program. Products from a Minnesota E2 plant contain a State of Minnesota symbol with the phrase inspected and passed, and the establishment number. When you see this, you can be assured that those products were inspected and passed under the same regulations and requirements that USDA uses to ensure the production of safe, wholesome products.  

The Minnesota E2 program allows smaller slaughter and processing establishments to expand their marking potential, work with smaller business within their community, and provide a service to the farmers in their area. It is also a very important part of strengthening and diversifying local food systems, local economic development, and helping consumers learn to know their local farmers.

These plants operate under the requirements as set by the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Currently licensed, permitted E2 plants are listed at Minnesota State "Equal To" Plants. (For a listing of USDA inspected plants, contact the Des Moines District office at 1-800-990-9834 or visit the USDA Meat, Poultry and Egg Product Inspection Directory.)

See map of Minnesota Meat Processors

Custom Exempt Processors

A custom meat processor is defined in State and Federal law as a plant that does not require continuous inspection because they only process meat for the owner of the animal. The meat, poultry, or wild game cannot be sold and can only be consumed by the owner, the owner’s immediate family, and non-paying guests. Custom processed meat must be identified “NOT FOR SALE". Businesses that operate under this exemption are inspected by the State Inspection Programs or by FSIS/USDA on a regular basis. However, inspections of these operations are conducted less frequently than operations under continuous inspection.

Wild Game Processing

Because wild game products can only be processed and returned to the owner of the animal (in this case, the hunter or trapper), wild game processing operations are considered custom exempt meat processing operations. Wild game processors may need to obtain a license and custom exempt plant permit, allowing them to process wild game and fowl for the owners of those products. Licensed and permitted wild game processors can also slaughter and process traditional livestock animals for the owners and participate in the Hunter Harvested Venison Donation Program. Some small-scale wild game processors are exempt from the requirement to have a license and permit to operate. For more information, go to Wild Game Processing.

Retail Exempt Processors

These businesses buy meat and poultry products from approved inspected sources (either FSIS or State inspected) and then sell these products at retail in their facility. Retail sales are to the final consumer. These operations are inspected by State Food Inspection Programs and must meet their state’s regulations for producing food.