The USDA sets up specific guidelines by which any processor of poultry or other livestock should abide. The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s code of federal regulations – Part 302 – directly addresses all types of livestock processors, and explains not only what types of processing facilities are governed by federal rule, but also what those rules are.
In Missouri, the state statute regarding commercial poultry processing regulations is § 265.310, and states that, “All commercial plants at which livestock or poultry are slaughtered, or at which meat or meat products are processed for human consumption, shall be operated in accordance with such sanitary practices as are provided by sections 265.300 to 265.470 and by the rules and regulations prescribed by the director.” ‘Director’ is defined as the director of the department of agriculture of this state, or his authorized representative.
These are the guidelines for commercial operations. Generally speaking, however, the fewer people a poultry producer intends to share his meat with or sell it to, the simpler his regulations will be.
The USDA offers exceptions to the rules for commercial operators. If your facility is just preparing chickens for you and your family, and not for resale, you don’t have to abide by the USDA standards. Those exemptions state, “The slaughtering by any individual of livestock of his own raising, and the preparation by him and transportation in commerce of the carcasses, parts thereof, meat and meat food products of such livestock exclusively for use by him and members of his household and his nonpaying guests and employees.”
The Missouri Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MMPIP) offers further guidelines regarding poultry processing under the “exempt” status:
1. Livestock must be raised by the owner and delivered to the processing plant for custom preparation.
2. The custom prepared articles must be exclusively for use in the owner’s household by members of his household, nonpaying guests and employees.
3. The custom-prepared products must be kept separate and apart from inspected products.
4. Immediately after preparation and until delivered to the customer, the carcasses or other prepared custom articles must be clearly marked “NOT FOR SALE.”
5. Official establishments engaging in custom operation must maintain records pertaining to the custom operation. The records shall include:
•    Name and address of the customer.
•    Species and weight of animals slaughtered.
•    Kind and weight of items prepared.
If a producer chooses to sell some poultry to customers off-the-farm, then the MMPIP forward certain requirements for state inspection. State inspection will be required, and federal rules must be abided by, when a producer desires to sell meat they have raised on their farm.
Guidelines state, “Before being granted state inspection, an establishment shall have developed written Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) and a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan.” You can find links to examples of both of these documents at Furthermore, the program says a conditional grant of inspection shall be issued for a period not to exceed 90 days, during which period the establishment must validate its HACCP plan with the Missouri Meat and Poultry Inspection Program.
These four steps must also be followed when seeking to open a state-inspected processing facility in Missouri:
1. The establishment must be maintained in a sanitary condition.
2. Obtain a release from official plant of inedible and condemned animal product form, and mail to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
3. Plant sewage waste disposal must have a permit for from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources or local authority.
4. A current “official” potable water test is required to be on file at all times.
Any producer desiring to embark on selling meat off their farm would be well advised to consult the Missouri Department of Agriculture to ensure all regulations are being followed, before you begin to process for retail.


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