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Just What Does USDA Inpected and Approved Mean?

Federal Inspection (21 U.S.C. 601, et seq.)

The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) requires that all meat sold commercially be inspected and passed to ensure that it is safe, wholesome, and properly labeled.


The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for providing this inspection. The FMIA requires inspection for any product intended for human consumption, wholly or in part, from the carcass or parts of any cattle, sheep, swine, and goat. These animals, defined as “livestock” in the regulations, must be slaughtered and processed under Federal inspection, and the meat food products must be inspected and passed for human consumption.


Food products from animals not subject to inspection under the FMIA (nonamenable species) are subject to regulation by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and State and local authorities.


Federal inspection personnel must be present at all times during livestock slaughter operations and for at least part of each shift during which there is further processing of meat products. In slaughter plants, inspection personnel verify the humane handling of animals and conduct antemortem inspection to ensure that the live animal is fit for slaughter. These inspection personnel also conduct post-mortem inspection to ensure that the meat from the carcass and internal organs are fit for human food.


When meat is distributed to other federally inspected establishments for further processing, the product is inspected to ensure that the product is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.


Inspected establishments must maintain and follow written Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans.


In addition to inspecting the meat products, inspection personnel inspect the facilities and equipment to ensure sanitary conditions are maintained. FSIS also reviews records to ensure they accurately document establishment verification that the meat food products are in compliance with all applicable requirements.


State Inspection (21 U.S.C. 661) Establishments that produce meat products sold entirely within a State require Federal inspection unless they are regulated under a State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) program. These State MPI programs are required to enforce requirements “at least equal to” those imposed under the Federal Acts.


State MPI programs certify annually, and FSIS reviews each State MPI program annually to determine whether each program meets the requisite “at least equal to” standard. As of September 2015, 27 States maintain cooperative agreements with FSIS to administer MPI programs, and FSIS reimburses a portion of the State’s operating costs.

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