Meat Processing Plant Regulations

​​​​Overview of regulations

Proper and effective sanitation is vital to every step of a food manufacturing process.  The wholesomeness of product is directly dependent on ​the sanitary practices conducted in the food production operation.  Unsanitary facilities and equipment, poor food handling, improper personal hygiene and similar unsanitary practices create an environment conducive to contamination of products.  There are direct links between inadequate sanitation and the contamination of meat and poultry products with pathogenic bacteria. 

Many sanitation issues will have already been addressed during the plant design phase.  Ensuring a safe water supply and distribution system, adequate ventilation, sound construction, vermin control and proper waste handling are some of the environmental sanitation issues that should already have been resolved.  The next phase is to establish and implement processes as part of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system as well as Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) and Sanitation Performance Standards (SPS). ​​Compliance with both is necessary if an establishment is to prevent the creation of unsanitary conditions that could lead to an unsafe product.  

​What is a HACCP plan?

HACCP is a risk-based approach to manufacturing food products. The goal behind the HACCP program is to identify the crucial steps in the manufacturing process and gain complete control over those places where there is a danger of causing or promoting microbiological, physical or chemical contamination. These control points can be included in the addition of ingredients, juncture between the pieces of equipment, change in temperature (heating, chilling), etc.

​Through documentation, verification and monitoring, establishments keep control over their manufacturing processes, creating a safer process for production.

Assistance is available from a number of industry groups to help with the development of a HACCP plan for your business. The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network​ offers a variety of resources about food safety and HACCP plans. Please find more links under "Additional Resources."  

What is a SSOP?​

SSOP stands for Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure. It is a written plan that outlines the procedures followed to maintain your overall plant sanitation. It could encompass daily cleaning, regularly scheduled maintenance, food handling practices and employee hygiene. Regulatory performance standards for sanitary operations include:

  • All food-contact surfaces, including food-contact surfaces of utensils and equipment, must be cleaned and sanitized as frequently as necessary.

  • Non-food-contact surfaces of facilities, equipment, and utensils used in the operation of the establishment must be cleaned and sanitized as frequently as necessary.

  • Cleaning compounds, sanitizing agents, processing aids, and other chemicals used by an establishment must be safe and effective under the conditions of use. Such chemicals must be properly used, handled, and stored.  Documentation substantiating the safety of a chemical’s use in a food-processing environment must be available to FSIS inspection program employees for review.

  • ​Product must be protected from adulteration during processing, handling, storage, loading, and unloading at and during transportation from official establishments.​

Assistance is available from a number of industry groups to help with the development of a SSOP for your business.  Please see the links under Additional Resources to the right.