Michigan food establishments that process meat products will need to obtain a special variance under FDA guidelines, and MSU Extension has created a special self-directed online training for the variance requirements and application process.

More Information

Under the 2009 FDA Food Code Food, many meat processors will be required to  obtain a Specialized Meat Processing at Retail Food Establishments Variance (SMPRV) by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The most commonly affected food establishments include those that are:

  • Curing food.
  • Packing food using reduced-oxygen packaging.
  • Smoking food as a method of food preservation.
  • Using food additives as a method of food preservation or to rend food nonhazardous.


MDARD requested applications by March 1, 2015. Submissions are still accepted for new firms. 

Video Lessons

This training can be purchased two ways—a DVD containing the lessors or special online access to the 12-video series—and allows meat processers to work on their own time at their own speed. The videos and supplemental educational material include lessons about variance requirements, safe food practices and the application process on their own time and at their own speed.

The 12-video series includes:

  1. What is the Food Code and when is a variance needed?
  2. Basic food safety
  3. Impacts of unsafe food production
  4. Acronyms and prerequisite programs
  5. HACCP Principles 1 – 3
  6. HACCP Principles 4 – 7
  7. MDARD Application for Specialized Meat Processing at Retail Food Establishments Variance
  8. Measuring pH in processed meat products
  9. Measuring water activity in processed meat products
  10. Making a wet bulb
  11. FREE: Calculations to determine the proper amount of nitrite
  12. Extending shelf life beyond 14 days


Calculating Nitrite from ANR Creative MSU on Vimeo.

Order Now

The video series costs $50 for a DVD or $40 to download the lessons and watch them at your computer. Go to the Specialized Meat Processing Variance Training page on shop.msu.edu.


For customer service or technical support questions when ordering the DVD or online video access, please contact shop.msu.edu customer support.

For questions about the variance, please contact the Michigan Department of Argriculture and Rural Develoment at 1-800-292-3939. You can also find more information about the meat variance at MDARD’s Meat Processing Regulations and Resources page.

For questions about the meat variance training series and how it can help you, please contact MSU Extension Educator Jeannine Schweihofer at grobbelj@msu.edu