Inspection in the Meat Plant

Apr 12, 2017

Every time an animal is slaughtered in the United States it goes through the process of inspection. Inspection in the U.S. is overseen by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. Animals are inspected before slaughter as well as after. When inspecting live animals, you are looking for any that show signs of illness or disease. The inspector is also making sure that the animals are under humane conditions, such as having enough water and that the animals are being treated humanely. After the animal is slaughtered inspectors are looking for any sign of disease or pathological condition that would cause the meat to be unsafe for human consumption.

Mandatory inspection has a long history in the U.S. dating back to the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906. This made it mandatory for all meat crossing state lines to be inspected. This act was revised in the Meat Act of 1967 where it was now mandatory for meat sold within a state meet requirement as those of the federal system. If the meat is to stay within state lines, they are to follow the regulations set by the state, and must be inspected by a state inspector instead of a federal one.

Many people are shocked to learn that every carcass is inspected.  Many packing plants have more than one inspector on staff, inspecting the meat at various stages through processing, ensuring that not only the meat is coming from a healthy animal, but that the facilities and equipment meet sanitation standards.

When the carcass is inspected and cleared it receives a round stamp containing the abbreviations for “United States Inspected and Passed” along with a number, that is assigned to the plant. These stamps also appear on the processed meat product and the box in which the product will be packaged.

These laws are always being changed and updated to make sure that the products being produced are safe and wholesome. Whenever an amendment or addition is made to inspection laws they are published in the Federal Register. Consumers and industry leaders are given the opportunity to to comment and speak out on the changes before the regulations are implemented.

The biggest reason inspection of meat is required is to make sure that consumers are receiving a safe, wholesome product. This is why inspectors are placed throughout the plant to ensure they are meeting sanitation requirements.


Food Safety and Inspection Service

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