Processing FAQ

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Facilities engaged in custom livestock or wild game meat processing are required to license with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Inspectors visit the facilities and conduct inspections as required by the processor's risk assessment, but at least once a year. They check for proper facility construction and safe and sanitary processing methods.

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Yes, the receiving, and holding areas need to be constructed so that the animals can be handled without being hurt. The processing, refrigeration, freezing and storage areas of a meat processing facility must all be constructed so that the processing can be done in a safe and sanitary manner. For example, walls in all areas of the facility must be constructed of materials that are easily cleaned and sanitized, processing room and cooler floors must be capable of being readily cleaned and properly drained.

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All equipment used for processing must be cleaned and sanitized regularly at the conclusion of each day's processing. The temperatures of the processing room, refrigerator and freezer must all be appropriate. Employees must use good hygiene. Vermin and pests must be properly controlled. Wild game must be segregated from domestic animals. Pork must be segregated from other meat. Waste must be properly denatured and disposed of. Custom processed meat and wild game meat must be labeled with "NOT FOR SALE", product identity, owner identity, and date of wrapping.

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The take home yield of meat from an animal is appproximately 40% of the live weight. The actual yield depends on the breed, age and condition of the animal. For example, a 1000# steer will yeild about a 615# carcass, from which about 432# of cut, wrapped meat is obtained. The yield of a boneless product from a field dressed wild game animal (animal minus hide, viscera and legs removed at the knee) will be about 40% of the weight of the animal.
 

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To know the expected yield of meat, you need to know how much the animal weighs before processing. The typical 1.5 year old elk is 350 - 450# live weight. A deer is 125 - 150# typically. An antelope often weighs around 100# live. Some processors may have a scale to weigh your animal carcass with when you check it in.

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Unfortunately, the Department cannot help with this type of problem. The Meat Law has requirements only for the sanitary and proper operation of a processing plant.

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Yes! The processor can only work with what you give him. Prompt field dressing (gutting and skinning) and proper handling before delivery are necessary if you want to make the most of the meat on the animal. Because the processor is required to operate in a safe and sanitary manner, the processor may even reject a carcass if it has not been properly handled.

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Yes, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA is responsible for inspecting live animals, meat carcasses and meat products and facilities in cases where the meat is being sold. The Colorado Department of Agiculture has an agreement with the USDA where the Colorado Department of Agriculture inspects the custom exempt plants and shares the information with the USDA. In order for meat to be sold, the animal must be slaughtered and processed under USDA inspection at a USDA Official plant.