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) Retail 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. All processing and packaging take place at the USDA inspected plant. The cost associated with a Retail Food Establishment License is currently $186 per year. There will be a site inspection when first applying for a Retail Food Establishment License and the MDARD inspector will do the following:

  1. 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.
  2. Inspect the overall area for sanitation or other concerns (make sure no unsanitary conditions exist, no evidence of rodents, etc.)
  3. Speak with the person in charge for the license (make sure they understand the requirements and regulations)
  4. 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)
  5. 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)
  6. 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 Direct marketing of locally produced meats offers opportunity for livestock producers  for information and licensing regarding direct marketing meat at a farmers market. 

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