Licenses to direct market individual cuts of meat in Michigan
Selling meat by the individual retail cut or in bundles requires a license in Michigan
Many farms are offering direct sale of their meat to increase their profitability and fill consumer demand for locally produced foods. Budgets of households have been tighter over the past several years, and families often cannot afford to purchase a whole, half or quarter of a beef carcass. Similarly, those selling pork, lamb or goat carcasses may also experience that consumers do not want to purchase a whole carcass worth of meat at one time.
Meat sold in individual pieces, bundles, quarters or halves that are brought back to the farm after slaughter and processing must be USDA inspected. Most often farmers are selling the meat frozen, and will pick up the meat from their local USDA inspected processor already frozen. In order to sell this meat to consumers, a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Food Establishment License is required. All of these regulations fall under the Michigan Food Law of 2000. There are several types of licenses under the Food Establishment License, and the exact type depends on how the business operates and what is sold to whom. The license that will most often affect a farmer direct marketing meat stored on his/her farm is a food warehouse license. This type of business is considered a food warehouse because the activity with the meat is storing the product. All processing and packaging take place at the USDA inspected plant. The cost associated with such a license is currently $70 per year. There will be a site inspection when first applying for the Food Warehouse License and the MDARD inspector will do the following:
- Identify that the area the food (in this case frozen meat) is stored is separate and has a separate entrance from living quarters and personal food.
- Inspect the overall area for sanitation or other concerns (make sure no unsanitary conditions exist, no evidence of rodents, etc.)
- Speak with the person in charge for the license (make sure they understand the requirements and regulations)
- Check temperatures of the food storage area (make sure that refrigerated food is 41°F or less and frozen food is 0°F or less)
- Observe for cross contamination (make sure the packages are not being opened; handled in unsanitary manner; or allowed to come in contact with anything that could be hazardous)
- Check for hazardous materials stored in the area where the food is stored (i.e. petroleum based products; if the separate area is a detached garage, then no oil, gas, or other potentially hazardous materials can be stored in the garage or contained portion of the building where the food is stored)
Check out Farmers markets offer opportunity for livestock producers to sell directly to consumers for information and licensing regarding direct marketing meat at a farmers market. More information on licensing requirements is available through this quick guide from MDARD.