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Meat and Poultry Inspection Division

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Question: 

What type of businesses does the NCDA&CS Meat and Poultry Inspection Division regulate?

Answer:

Our agency inspects red meat (livestock) slaughter houses and businesses that further process / fabricate meat and poultry products for wholesale distribution. The USDA inspects all poultry slaughterhouses in NC.  Restaurants and retail butcher shops are regulated by their County Health Department. 

Question: 

I want to start a new business in the Meat and Poultry Industry.  What type of inspection do I need?

Answer:

The following link has a chart indicating the inspection requirements for various meat and poultry businesses.
 
Inspection Requirements for Meat and Poultry Businesses, MPID Notice 9-10

If you have additional questions, call the NCDA&CS Meat and Poultry Inspection Division at 919-707-3180.

Question:

What is the difference between a federally - and state-inspected plant? How does the inspection affect where and to whom I sell meats?

Answer:

State and federally inspected processing plants follow the same guidelines to ensure that meat is wholesome and safe for consumption. The main difference is that, by law, state-inspected meats can only be sold within the state. This means that you may not cross state lines, sell these meats online, mail or in any other way ship them out of state.  State inspected meat and poultry products bear a state inspection legend versus a USDA inspection legend.

Question:

What is a “TA plant”?

Answer:

“TA” refers to the Talmadge-Aiken Act of 1962, a law passed to help coordinate state and federal food safety guidelines.  This law allows trained inspectors that are state employees to staff meat packing plants with USDA inspection privileges.   A “TA plant” is a “federally-inspected” plant, which means that meats from this facility bear the USDA Inspection Legend can be sold across state lines.

Question:

What is a “custom slaughter” facility?

Answer:

A custom slaughter facility is a slaughter and processing facility that does not have a state or federal inspector on duty and therefore the meat from these facilities are not considered state or federally inspected meats. These establishments are regularly inspected for overall sanitation, but the animals themselves are not inspected for disease.  Custom slaughter operations offer services for people who want an animal slaughtered for their own personal use. The meat is cut, packaged, and labeled “not for sale.” These meats are returned to the owner of the animal and cannot be sold.

Question:

Can I slaughter my own animals myself?

Yes. You can slaughter animals that you have raised on your farm as long as the meat is for your family’s own personal use or the use of non-paying guests. You may not sell meat from animals you have slaughtered on your farm. You must use an inspected slaughter facility to sell meats.

You may sell meat from poultry that you have slaughtered, processed, packaged, and labeled yourself. There are specific rules and guidelines that need to be followed in order to process and sell your own poultry.  Please see the following links for more information: 

Inspection Requirements for Meat and Poultry Businesses, MPID Notice 9-10
On Farm Slaughter Activities, MPID Notice 35-08

Question:

Can I sell a live animal to a customer and slaughter “their animal” myself as a service on my farm?

Answer:

No.  If you slaughter animals for other individuals on your property, without first building an inspected slaughter facility, you are in violation of state and federal meat inspection laws. Not only is this is against the law, it can put your farm and livelihood at risk. Individuals found in violation could be assessed a civil money penalty of up to $5,000 per violation or face criminal prosecution.   Additionally, if for some reason a customer gets sick, you could be held liable.  If your customer wants to have the animal slaughtered and/or processed for their personal use, they must take it to a custom slaughtering facility or an inspected slaughtering facility which conducts custom slaughtering activity, where the animal will be slaughtered, processed to their specifications, and marked and labeled as “NOT FOR SALE”.

See the following link for more information:

On Farm Slaughter Activities, MPID Notice 35-08

Question:

Can I sell a live animal off the farm and allow the customer to slaughter “their animal” on my farm?

Answer:

No.  If you provide a location, service or facility for the slaughter of animals by an individual, without first building an inspected slaughter facility, you are in violation of state and federal meat inspection laws. Individuals found in violation could be assessed a civil money penalty of up to $5,000 per violation or face criminal prosecution.  Additionally, if for some reason a customer gets sick, you could be held liable.   You are putting yourself and your farm at risk by allowing this to happen on your property. If your customer wants to have the animal slaughtered, they must take it to a custom slaughtering facility or an inspected slaughtering facility which conducts custom slaughtering activity where the animal will be slaughtered, processed to their specifications, and marked and labeled as “NOT FOR SALE”.

See the following link for more information:

On Farm Slaughter Activities, MPID Notice 35-08

Question:

I have a roast in my refrigerator and I'm not sure if it is safe to eat.  Who can help answer my food safety questions?

Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. This hotline is open year round Monday-Friday from 10 am to 4 pm EST.  USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service also has an automated response system to provide food safety information.  Go to the following web page:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov and look for the "Ask Karen" icon.

Question:

I have a pig I want to take to a slaughter house for processing. How can I find out where the slaughter houses in NC are located?

Answer:

A directory of inspected slaughter and processing facilities is located on the following section of our web site:

http://www.ncagr.gov/MeatPoultry/directory.htm

If you need assistance locating a slaughter house in this directory, call the NCDA&CS Meat and Poultry Inspection Division at 919-707-3180.

Question: 

I raise livestock and want to take my animals to an inspected slaughter / processor, then sell the meats at my local farmer's market.  What type of license do I need?

Answer:

A meat handler's registration is required.  There is no cost for this registration and one can initiate the registration process by calling the NCDA&CS Meat and Poultry Inspection Division at 919-707-3180.  The receptionist will take your name, address and phone number and have a member of their field staff contact you.  This member of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division will phone you and make an appointment for an on-site visit to begin the registration process. Requirements for Meat Handlers can be found on the following link:

Meat and Poultry Handler Requirements, MPID Notice 36-08

Question: 

I teach anatomy and need some pig organs (heart, lungs, spleen) for a class.  How may I obtain them?

Answer:

Information on obtaining specimens from a slaughter house for educational, research and other purposes is found on the following link. 

http://www.ncagr.gov/MeatPoultry/specimens.htm

If you have additional questions, call the NCDA&CS Meat and Poultry Inspection Division at 919-707-3180.

Question:

I want to raise and sell live chickens and their eggs.  Whom should I contact to learn about the requirements?

Answer:

For more information on selling live chickens, contact the NCDA&CS Veterinary Division at 919-733-7601.  Information on selling eggs can be obtained from the NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division at 919-733-7366.

Question:

I have a complaint about some meat products I purchased at a grocery store.  Whom should I contact?

The agency responsible depends on where the product was produced.  If the product was produced under Federal inspection (it has a circular USDA Inspection legend) contact USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service at 1-800-662-7608.  If product was produced at an NCDA&CS inspected establishment (trapezoid shaped NCDA Inspection legend) contact the NCDA&CS Meat and Poultry Inspection Division at 919-707-3180.  If the product was produced at the retail meat market (has no mark of inspection as described above) contact your local County Health Department.

If your complaint is business related, and you do not have a health and safety concern, contact the store manager or grocery store headquarter office to request a refund.  Complaints regarding unfair business practices in North Carolina can be addressed to the NC Department of Justice Consumer Protection Section at 919-716-6000 or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. 

Frequently Asked Questions From
Food Safety and Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture

Questions on Freezing
Questions on Ground Beef
Questions on Door to Door Meat Sales
Questions on Product Dating
Questions on Meat and Poultry Grading

 

 

NCDA&CS - Meat and Poultry Inspection Division, W. Alan Wade , Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street , Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3180; FAX: (919) 715-0246; TA Office: (919) 707-3195