Beef Jerkey retail sales require a meat processors variance

New regulations affect those wishing to sell beef jerky at farmers' markets, online or to friends. Learn more about what the plan and application process involve to move your business forward.

Selling beef jerky at Michigan farmers’ markets, online, and to your friends and neighbors hasn’t always required a food safety plan. However, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) requires new businesses to acquire a Specialized Meat Processing at Retail Food Establishment Variance before they can get a business license.  

The variance pertains to businesses that use specialized meat processing such as curing, smoking or otherwise using additives for preservation or vacuum packaging specialized meats.

“The variance has been in place for a couple of years now,” said Jeanine Schweihofer, a beef and livestock educator with Michigan State University Extension. Schweihofer said MDARD estimates at least 800 existing businesses are affected by this variance. Businesses that were in place when the variance was started will need to comply with the variance and have been given until March 1, 2015 to complete a food safety plan and obtain variance approval.

The Specialized Meat Processing at Retail Food Establishment Variance application outlines the food safety plan of the business. Components of the food safety plan include the Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan, the Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) and the General Manufacturing Practices (GMP) that the business will implement and follow.

MDARD recommends that businesses attend a training course to better understand the legal requirements of the variance and minimize the time needed to complete the application. An online training is being developed by Michigan State University Extension for use by businesses in the future. In addition, the MSU Product Center, through a partnership with MSU Extension, provides business assistance in completing such food safety plans.

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