Throughout the year, and this month in particular, USDA celebrates 150 years of existence. The legislation that established USDA was signed on May 15, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln. At that point, food safety wasn’t a major concern for the People’s Department.
The turning point for domestic meat inspection really came in 1905 and 1906, after Upton Sinclair published The Jungle. The details of the book described unsanitary working conditions in a Chicago meatpacking house, putting meat consumers at risk for disease. Read more »
In the United States the slaughter and processing of meat sold in the marketplace must take place at a state or federally-inspected facility. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, is responsible for this important task. While these requirements are important for protecting the public’s health, they can create challenges for farmers, ranchers, and processors looking to do business.
For example, small livestock producers are finding it hard (and at times, cost prohibitive) to transport their livestock the long distances necessary to the closest FSIS-inspected slaughter facility. This is especially troubling to producers at a time when markets for locally grown and specialty products are becoming more and more profitable. FSIS-inspected “mobile slaughter units” provide a feasible option for small red meat and poultry producers wanting to provide safe, wholesome product to local and interstate markets. Read more »
This FSIS map shows the density of small livestock and poultry producers in relation to the locations of Federally- and State-inspected slaughter establishments. USDA uses the map to identify gaps in slaughter availability.
Meat and poultry products are important commodities within many local and regional food systems. The production of these products for local and regional markets is of course dependent on the availability of facilities that slaughter and process livestock and poultry. Media stories have recently documented the difficulties many small farmers and ranchers often face when searching for facilities to slaughter their animals for local markets; lack of a nearby slaughter facility or lengthy wait times for services are frequently cited problems. Read more »
In Washington, DC today, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Deputy Under Secretary Darci Vetter accepted an American flag that flew above the U. S. Regional Embassy Office at Al Hillah, Iraq in recognition of USDA employees’ contributions on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq. Read more »