Spruce Hill Meats in Bowman is the newest North Dakota company operating under the State Meat and Poultry Inspection Program.
“Spruce Hill Meats has met all requirements for the meat inspection program," said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Their business will help provide local beef to the community.”
Owner Dr. Bill Rotenberger was looking for a challenge after retiring as a veterinarian and thought the community could benefit from a local meat processing facility. He started his business as a custom exempt meat processing facility in September 2020 and his first official day under state inspection was Jan. 17, 2022.
Rotenberger decided to go through the process to become a state-inspected plant because it gives him more business opportunities and he wanted to give the community a retail facility. They process about 12 beef per week and occasionally some hogs and goats upon request.
Meat processing plants, accredited by the state inspection program, can sell their products wholesale to other retail establishments. Meat and poultry products that have been processed under state inspection can be sold on a wholesale or retail basis anywhere in North Dakota. After operating as an official state establishment for at least three months, plants are eligible to apply for the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which allows them to ship anywhere in the United States.
State Meat Inspection Director Dr. Andrea Grondahl and other meat inspection staff from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) helped Rotenberger meet regulatory requirements, including a written Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs).
HACCP is a science-based approach to manufacturing food products. The goal behind the HACCP program is to identify the crucial steps in the manufacturing process and to gain complete control over those places where a danger of microbiological, physical or chemical contamination exists. SSOPs outline the procedures for maintaining overall plant sanitation, including daily cleaning, regularly scheduled maintenance, food handling practices and employee hygiene.
Goehring said 17 North Dakota companies now operate under the State Meat & Poultry Inspection Program. NDDA also inspects 75 custom exempt facilities in the state, which process private game and livestock.