So you want to start a meat processing business?
Whether you are looking to license an existing meat plant or expand, upgrade, or build a new meat processing plant, the steps are similar. Here’s a simple outline for a complex process:
Do Your Research
Learn about the industry. Talk with other meat plant owners, trade groups, regulatory agencies, farmers, and customers. If you’ve never owned a business before, determine how you will operate and market your business. This will help you decide how you want your business to look. Will it be a small, state-inspected locker selling products only in your state? Or a larger, federally-inspected facility that ships products across the country?
Check out some of these helpful resources to get you started:
Designing a meat processing plant is no easy endeavor. Do your homework to learn about construction requirements, water availability, and dealing with waste. Beyond the physical plant requirements, you will have to evaluate the many types of equipment that will be required for the processing services you plan to offer. More about plant design
Regulations: SOPs, SSOPs, and HACCP
Standard Operating Procedures. Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. Recall Plan. Unless you’re planning a custom-exempt plant, you’ll need a written plan for each of these before you can begin the licensing process. The plans must be reviewed by DATCP. More about regulations
Inspection and Permitting
Whether you’re planning to have federal or state inspection, or operate as a custom-exempt facility, it’s generally a good idea to have an inspector look over your plant design before you build. Even strictly custom plants must be inspected periodically. And before you build, you need permits: business permits, building permits, and wastewater permits. Local zoning laws take precedent over regulatory requirements. More about inspections and permitting
Microbiology for Meat Processors
Meat processors wear many hats and one of them is that of the resident microbiologist. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of microbiology as you develop your food safety and HACCP plans, or if you are interested in making cured or fermented products like salami. Take a look at these resources to learn more about how to make safe products:
Introduction to the Microbiology of Food Processing
Microbiology 101 for Small Meat Processors