The goal of the Office of Meat and Poultry Services (OMPS) is to ensure the production of safe, wholesome, and truthfully labeled meat and poultry products as well as humane treatment of the livestock that is processed. OMPS provides inspection service to individuals or companies that slaughter and/or process meat and poultry products.
What meat and poultry products need to be inspected by OMPS?
- All amenable species – cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and poultry (including ratites) unless an exemption exists.
- All food products containing at least 3% raw or 2% cooked meat and/or poultry offered for sale.
How can I get my facility inspected by OMPS?
- Before inspection service is provided, several regulatory requirements must be met. The operator of the slaughter or processing facility must submit an application for a grant of inspection. By submitting the application, the operator is agreeing to follow all regulatory guidelines applicable to their operation.
- The basic requirements for inspection can be found here. Click here for an application.
What requirements does my facility need to meet in order to get inspection by OMPS?
- Facility requirements can be found in 9 CFR 416.
- OMPS guide “Establishment Design and Construction” provides basic guidance for construction of processing and slaughter plants. NOTE: Information in the guideline is based on regulations but is not necessarily regulatory requirements. If you have any questions regarding this material, please contact OMPS 804.786.4569.
- Regulations require a physical separation from living quarters without openings that directly or indirectly communicate with any part of the building used as living quarters. In order to operate under a grant of inspection from your home, you would have to be able to comply with this requirement.
How can I sell meat/poultry from animals/birds raised on my farm?
- Have livestock slaughtered and processed at a USDA or Virginia OMPS inspected facility. Each animal is inspected for disease conditions and sanitary dressing procedures. Inspectors verify the facility has controls in place to reduce or eliminate hazards that could cause sickness, injury or death. All products safe for consumption have the federal or state mark of inspection as well as the number of the establishment that produced that product.
Once the meat has been inspected, it can be brought back to the farm and offered for sale. If the farm has a retail store, the Office of Food Safety would provide inspection for the store. If the farmer is engaged in business as a wholesaler, broker, distributor, or peddler of meat or poultry products, then they would need to apply to OMPS for a Meat and Poultry Handlers Permit.
- Apply for a grant of inspection to either USDA/FSIS 919.844.8400 or OMPS 804.786.4569. In Virginia, requirements for a grant of inspection are the same for federal and state inspected facilities. State inspected products cannot cross state lines.
- Sell your livestock to individuals who may take them to a custom slaughter facility for processing. All meat would be marked “NOT FOR SALE” and would be for the personal use of the animal’s owner. Regulations prohibit the transportation of uninspected meat except by the owner of the meat. This would prohibit you from distributing custom processed meats.
- Apply for a Custom Permit of Exemption from OMPS. Please see the requirements under Custom Exemption. You may sale your livestock to individuals. You could offer slaughtering and processing at your facility for a fee. The meat would have to be picked up by the owner of the animal.
- To sell poultry, please see the information under Poultry Exemption.
Can I sell meat/poultry at farmers markets, to restaurants, retail stores, and on the internet?
Yes, if all meat was processed at a USDA/FSIS or Virginia OMPS inspected facility. Virginia inspected products cannot cross state lines.
Due to the complexity of the poultry exemptions, contact OMPS if you wish to sell poultry.
I’m just one person making BBQ. Do I have to meet the same inspection requirements as a large company? I’m only selling to a few local restaurants.
Yes, there is no exemption to the inspection requirements bases on the size or amount of product produced.
Can I sell meat from game birds/animals?
Wild harvested game birds/animals cannot be sold for food. Only meat from farm raised game birds/animals may be sold. USDA/FSIS and OMPS exempt these animals and birds from inspection requirements. FDA Food Code requires all meat and poultry sold at retail stores and prepared in restaurants to come from an approved source. USDA/FSIS and OMPS provide voluntary inspection for farm raised game. There is an hourly inspection fee and travel costs for this service.
For more information about farming game birds/animals contact The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 804.367.1000.
What do I need to do if I want to sell meat from my rabbits?
Rabbits are not required to be slaughtered and processed under inspection. FDA Food Code requires all meat and poultry sold at retail stores and prepared in restaurants to come from an approved source. USDA/FSIS and OMPS provide voluntary inspection for rabbits. There is an hourly inspection fee and travel costs for this service.
What are the inspection requirements for pet food?
Please contact the Office of Plant Industry Services 804.225.4558 for requirements for pet food manufacture. Anyone engaged in the business of buying, selling, transporting in commerce inedible parts and products of the carcasses or any animals or poultry must be registered by OMPS as an inedible Meat and Poultry Products Handler/Hauler.
What are the exemptions to the inspection requirement?
- Custom Exemption - The owner of the livestock or poultry slaughters it for his own use, or for use by members of his household or nonpaying guests. Custom slaughter or processing may also be conducted when the animal is slaughtered or processed by someone other than the owner for the personal use of the owner of the animal. Meat from custom slaughter cannot be sold because the animal has not been inspected for disease, sanitary dressing and handling. All custom exempt meat must be marked “NOT FOR SALE”. Custom exempt products can not cross state lines.
Virginia regulations require anyone custom slaughtering and/or processing animals they do not own to apply for a Custom Permit. Custom Permits are renewed July 1st each year. For more information on requirements for Custom Permits, click here.
- Poultry Exemption – Several different categories of exemptions to inspection exist for poultry. Unlike meat, poultry produced under the exemptions can be sold. Exempt poultry cannot cross state lines. Poultry produced under an exemption do not receive inspection for disease, sanitary dressing and handling.
Virginia regulations require anyone slaughtering and/or processing over 1,000 birds up to 20,000 birds to apply for a Poultry Permit of Exemption. Permits are renewed December 1st of each year. The bird limits apply to all bird produced in the calendar year and is not separated by specie. FDA Food Code requires poultry sold at retail stores and prepared in restaurants to come from an approved source. It is recommended that you check with the local health department and Office of Food Safety 804.786.3520 before selling product to/at restaurants, retail stores or local farmers markets.
For more information on the requirements and the exemption categories for the Poultry Permit of Exemption, click here. For an application for a Poultry Permit of Exemption, click here.
- Retail Store Exemption – Meat and poultry products can be processed in retail stores for sale to household consumers. All meat processed for sale in a retail store must have been passed by either federal (USDA/FSIS) or Virginia state inspection (OMPS). Poultry sold in a retail store must have been passed by either federal (USDA/FSIS), Virginia state inspection (OMPS), or been received from a business that has a Virginia Poultry Permit of Exemption. The owner of custom slaughtered meat may deliver it to a facility that possesses a custom permit or exemption for processing retail but it must be clearly marked “NOT FOR SALE” and kept separated from inspected and retail products.
Retail stores are inspected by the Office of Food Safety 804.786.3520.
- Restaurant Exemption – Meat and poultry products can be prepared in restaurants but only for sale or service in meals or as entrees directly to individual consumers at such establishments. This also applies to caterer which delivers or serves product in meals or as entrees, only to individual consumers. All meat prepared at the restaurant/caterer must have been passed by either federal (USDA/FSIS) or Virginia state inspection (OMPS). Poultry prepared at the restaurant/caterer must have been passed by either federal (USDA/FSIS), Virginia state inspection (OMPS), or been received from a business that has a Virginia Poultry Permit of Exemption.
Restaurants and caterers are normally inspected by the local health department with jurisdiction for that location.