Building a meat plant | Living the Country Life

Building a meat plant

Small meat processing facilities are an important resource for rural areas

Radio interview source: Nick McCann, Extension Business Specialist, Iowa State University

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

Building a meat plant requires a lot of business planning and attention to food safety. Nick McCann is a business specialist for Iowa State University Extension. He says establishing a meat processing facility takes a lot of planning, beginning with determining the market, and the capacity of the plant. The design of the building includes several key components.

"Often times your typical small meat plant is going to have a pre-chilled cooler where after we kill carcasses we bring it down to temperature," McCann says. "And then from there we'll move those carcasses into a larger aging cooler where beef will age maybe 7-14 days. From there it will go into fabrication where they will actually break that carcass down and turn it into all kinds of different cuts, turn it into trim." The trim might go to what's called a sausage kitchen with smaller coolers, a smoke house, and equipment for stuffing sausages.

Food safety is the number one priority, so McCann says you will need to understand the rules and regulations in your area. You will also have to decide the type of facility to operate. "A federally-inspected facility, in which federal USDA employees will inspect meat, inspect processes at that plant," says McCann. "There's a state inspected facility in certain states, and facilities that are under state meat inspection, basically it's the same thing as federal inspection except for that meat is not allowed to enter into interstate commerce. So if I have state inspected meat, I can resell that within the state, but I can't go outside the state."

Custom lockers are a third type of facility that must have a food safety plan, but aren't inspected as stringently.

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