USDA Meat Inspection Process
Meat, poultry, and eggs, that are commercially sold, require additional approval and inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) as outlined in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). The FMIA was originally passed in 1906 after the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle highlighted the poor working conditions and unsanitary practices in Chicago’s meat packing industry.
Manufacturing Packaged Meat Products
What does all of this mean for you? To comply with the FMIA, you will need a Federal Grant of Inspection. A Federal Grant of Inspection allows you to legally sell your products across state lines. Essentially, with a Federal Grant of Inspection, the USDA-FSIS is certifying that your manufacturing facility and procedures are food safe and up to code. They then confirm that you are following your procedures and maintaining your manufacturing facility by inspecting your production runs.
You will need the following to qualify for a Federal Grant of Inspection from USDA-FSIS:
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan: This is a document outlining your company’s approach to identifying, evaluating, and controlling food safety hazards in your manufacturing process and procedures. Once your written HACCP plan is approved, the USDA-FSIS issues a conditional grant of inspection for 90 days, during which time you are expected to validate the HACCP plan.
Recall Plan: The Recall Plan specifies “how you will decide whether to conduct a product recall and describes the procedures you will follow if you decide that a recall is necessary.”
Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP): The SSOP is written steps that must be followed to adequately maintain food safe conditions in your manufacturing facility. All HACCP plans require SSOPs as part of the prerequisite programs. Review this sample SSOP for a better idea of what to include.
Approval of Packaging Labels: Food manufacturers must obtain approval for product labels based on the requirements set by the USDA on content and design.
Suitable Facility: This is defined by USDA-FSIS standards. We recommend reviewing the Code of Federal Regulation for a more detailed overview on what qualifies as a suitable facility.
Union Kitchen and the USDA
If you are an Accelerator Member at Union Kitchen, we’ve already done a lot of the work for you! The process is faster since we have a Federal Grant of Inspection approved by the USDA-FSIS. Here’s what the process looks like for Union Kitchen Accelerator Members:
Reach out to us via email@example.com to let us know you are interested in becoming USDA-inspected.
Our team informs our Federal Inspector that we’re submitting the required documentation. We request a generic approval of labels and to add a new producer (you!).
Once we receive confirmation from our Federal Inspector, we submit the labels for approval.
Following the approval of a generic label, we circle back with our Federal Inspector to review the new submission (HACCP, Recall Plan, and SSOP). Our facility is already approved as a suitable facility under USDA-FSIS requirements so no need to worry about proving the suitability of the manufacturing plant.
Check out the resources below for more information on receiving approval from USDA-FSIS: