May 25, 2010
On Tuesday USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) published a compliance guide to help operators of mobile slaughter units understand the regulatory requirements that pertain to them. It should also be must reading for entrepreneurs considering building a mobile slaughter facility.
FSIS is requesting feedback on the guidance by July 26 and will incorporate comments and revise the guidance as warranted.
Mobile slaughter units (MSU) are a response to the increased demand for high quality, locally produced and specialty meats at a time when consolidation in the meat processing industry has made it less flexible and responsive. Mobile units can process smaller quantities of meat humanely and cost effectively and their mobility allows them to provide services closer to where the animals are raised. Creating opportunities to process meat locally retains dollars in rural communities where they can generate additional economic activity.
Coincidentally, the New York Times Sunday Magazine featured a story on a new mobile meat unit in the Northeast, sponsored by Glynwood. The piece by Christine Muhlke is cleverly titled “Movable Beast.”
USDA on Tuesday also released a preliminary study documenting where there are large concentrations of small meat and poultry producers without access to processors. Recognizing the untapped economic potential of this sector, USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative highlights available grant and loan programs and FSIS now offers several resources for small and very small meat processors on its website, including the Small Plant Help Desk.