The State Meat Inspection Program was enacted by the 1999 Legislature to increase the opportunities for meat processors and livestock producers in the state of North Dakota. Prior to this enactment, federal inspection, or Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of USDA, regulated all meat processors in the state. The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) grants authority to an appropriate State agency to develop and administer a State meat inspection program. The program must have laws, regulations and procedures that are “at least equal to” the FMIA. Once a state is approved of by FSIS, they will receive federal funds of up to 50% of the total cost of the program. North Dakota gained approval from FSIS on October 19, 2000, and became the 26th state to have a program. In June, 2005, North Dakota gained approval to also provide state inspection service for poultry and became the State Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPIP).
The ongoing mission of the MPIP is to ensure that the meat products consumers buy are safe to eat and free from contamination. We protect and ensure the quality of the meat supply through registration, inspection, testing, and enforcement activities. Program staff also monitor meat package labeling, which helps inform the public about what is being purchased and who processed or distributed the product.
Our staff consists of the meat inspection director, two regional supervisors, a compliance officer, and several field inspectors located throughout the state. In addition to regulating meat processors, our staff offers assistance and guidance to meat slaughtering and/or processing businesses to help them comply with state and federal rules and laws governing the processing and sale of meat products. The compliance officer within the program has duties that extend beyond meat processing plants, which include reviewing stores, restaurants, distributors and warehouses to ensure products being served or sold have been inspected, are being stored properly and have not been adulterated or contaminated after leaving the packing plant. This employee also investigates consumer complaints. Two inspectors within the MPIP also serve as certified graders. These employees are certified through the USDA division, Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) and are able to provide beef grading service to any state or federally inspected plant that requests this service. For additional information on grading, visit their website at www.ams.usda.gov.
North Dakota meat laws (ND Century Code §4.1-31) and regulations (ND Administrative Code §7-13) require that meat or meat food products offered for sale must be safe and wholesome. To prevent contamination, meat must be prepared under sanitary conditions, and the equipment used must be suitable for the product being sold.
Requirements differ depending on the type and degree of meat slaughtering/processing and sales of products involved. The different types of meat businesses include custom exempt, retail exempt, official slaughtering, official processing establishments, or combinations of these. For more information on types of meat processing plants and their requirements see “Meat Processing in North Dakota - Guidelines for Operating a Business”.
Consumers utilizing a meat processing facility should also be aware of the differences between the types of plants in order to make an informed decision when butchering their home grown livestock. At official or fully inspected facilities, your livestock will receive third party verification. Inspection staff will inspect every animal while it is still alive and after slaughter to ensure no sign of disease is missed. Inspectors allow only healthy carcasses to be marked with the North Dakota State inspection legend before they are returned to you or, in the case where livestock is purchased by the plant, before it may enter the food supply. In contrast, custom establishments are not inspected on a continuous basis and there is no third party verification of carcasses or meat products. These plants are inspected for facility and sanitation requirements but on a much less frequent basis (usually quarterly). To view a list of official and custom exempt plants, click here.
The Meat and Poultry program is committed to ensuring the civil rights of all customers and employees, for more information visit the Non-Discrimination Statement. To view the Limited English Proficiency Plan, please click here.