• On May 24, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a guideline: FSIS Guideline for Determining Whether a Livestock Slaughter or Processing Firm is Exempt from the Inspection Requirements of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Absent an exemption, all establishments where cattle, goat, swine, or sheep are slaughtered or processed for sale must be inspected by FSIS. FSIS regulations found at 9 CFR Part 303 provide for exemptions for slaughter for personal use, custom slaughter, slaughter in an unrecognized Territory for distribution in that Territory, certain retail and restaurant use.
  • Initial determination regarding exemptions is made by the individual claiming the exemption, but may be confirmed by FSIS. Additionally, though an activity or facility may be exempt from inspection, there may be other requirements, including that the livestock be fit for human consumption and that the carcass not prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions. In some cases the requirements include recordkeeping. State and local laws may still apply.
  • One point of interest from the guideline: In some cases the ownership of the livestock or carcass is key. For example, consider an animal slaughtered at a ranch with all of the meat being delivered to an individual for his and his family’s personal consumption. If the ranch slaughters its own animal and sells the meat to the individual no exemption applies. However, if the ranch sells the animal to the individual and then slaughters the animal for that individual’s personal use, the custom slaughter exemption might apply. If, instead, the animal is purchased by the individual and slaughtered by the individual at the ranch the personal use exemption might apply.
  • FSIS is accepting comments for 60 days after publication. Keller and Heckman would be happy to assist in preparing and submitting comments for any interested parties.