November 1, 2002
RETAIL SALES AT A SLAUGHTERHOUSE
By: Paul Frisman, Associate Analyst
You asked whether a licensed slaughterhouse can sell meat products it does not produce itself.
According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a licensed slaughterhouse may sell meat products slaughtered elsewhere if the products bear the USDA mark of inspection. A retail store can either “pass through” the product and sell it in the condition it was received, or alter the product in ways the law considers “traditional and usual” for a retail store.
Operations the law considers traditional and usual include cutting up, slicing and trimming meat into retail cuts; grinding and freezing; curing, cooking, smoking, rendering or refining of livestock fat (except for slaughtering or the retort processing of canned products); breaking bulk shipments of products; and wrapping or rewrapping products (9 CFR § 303.1(d)(2)(i)).
A retail store also can sell wholesale and be exempt from inspection if it:
1. sells products only to household consumers, hotels, restaurants or similar institutions;
2. sells at least 75% of its total sales (in dollar value) to household consumers, with the total dollar value of such sales not exceeding an annual limit set by the FSIS administrator;
3. sells only federally or (in states with their own inspection programs) state-inspected products; and
4. does not sell more than the equivalent of one-half carcass at a time to a consumer. This amount differs by species and is defined by law (9 CFR § 303.1(d)(2)(ii)).
The federal Poultry Products Inspection Act (21 USC § 451 et seq.) requires inspection of poultry before slaughtering in most cases. However, the law exempts retail stores selling poultry directly to consumers from inspection requirements if the store restricts on-premises processing to cutting up the poultry products (21 USC § 464).
State law (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 21a-101-7) requires that meat and poultry products sold in establishments in which food is stored, processed, prepared, offered for sale or sold directly to a consumer be inspected for wholesomeness under an official regulatory program, such as the USDA's.