Food Safety Inspection Processes to Focus on in Meat Processing Plants

Food Safety Inspection

Table of Contents

The importance of implementing rigorous inspection procedures has never been greater, given the severe consequences that may result from inadequate processing and handling of food items. Meat processing facilities, which handle potentially hazardous pathogen-contaminated raw materials, are subject to increased scrutiny to guarantee that the products they deliver to the final consumer are free from contamination. Inspections for food safety generally focus on evaluating your food business to check compliance with the food safety standards in your meat processing plants and the effectiveness of the food safety management system.

Once you have a digital food safety management system in place, you can organize all the documentation, meet the accountability requirements, and comply with the food safety requirements.

This blog explores food safety inspection procedures, focusing mainly on meat processing facilities. Understanding the essential components of these inspections is imperative for organizations to abide by regulatory requirements, preserve consumer confidence, and maintain the utmost food safety standards.

What is Food Safety Inspection?

When it comes to health, risks are not an option. So, what could be a better way to ensure the food’s safety than to eliminate all our worries regarding protecting the food?

Lucky for us, that is exactly what a food safety inspection does; it thoroughly scans the food to detect little troublemakers such as:

  • Germs,
  • Microbes,
  • Harmful microorganisms.

This procedure is standard for all food industries and businesses and is considered a crucial procedure that everyone must practice. It also evaluates a business’s compliance with food safety standards and proficiency in establishing an effective food safety management system.

Why Do the Food Inspectors Visit?

Food inspections ensure that the meat production business complies with the food safety laws in place to protect the health of the end consumer.

Health inspectors from your local regulatory body can enter your premises during business hours any day of the week to carry out inspections. They can come for routine or surprise inspections to investigate compliance with food safety laws and low business ratings.

They could also visit because customers may have complained about the company or if certification validity is due.

Most Important Elements in a Food Safety Inspection

food safety inspection elements

During a food safety inspection, the most critical elements to observe are:

Cleanliness and Hygiene

Harmful microorganisms can easily travel from one place to another, leading to contamination and foodborne illnesses. Therefore, it is essential to ensure cleanliness and proper hygiene practices.

Storage of Raw and Cooked Ingredients

Uncooked food (meat, poultry, and raw vegetables) tends to carry harmful pathogens. Therefore, it must be kept separate from cooked ingredients to ensure the pathogens don’t go to the general public.

Thorough Cooking

Cooking at a minimum temperature of 70 Degrees Celsius can eliminate harmful microorganisms, especially when cooked in large quantities. Thus, thorough cooking is one of the most crucial elements of a food safety inspection.

Maintaining Optimum Temperature

To maintain safety, food must be stored at a temperature above 60 or below 5 Degrees Celsius, and avoiding unnecessary storage of old ingredients can help keep away harmful microbes.

Proper Utilization of Water and Raw Ingredients

Raw ingredients and water in ice cubes can contain harmful chemicals and microorganisms. Therefore, they must be appropriately stored and utilized.

How Does Food Safety Inspection Work for Meat Processing Plants?

Food safety inspection aims at ensuring compliance with the food safety standards set by the regulatory authorities. Similarly, for meat processing regulations, these inspections double-check if the meat in production is safe for consumption by humans by:

  • Conducting physical inspections
  • Reviewing records
  • Identifying violations,
  • Addressing potential hazards

What Should Your Meat Processing Plant Focus on to Pass Inspections?

If you have a business related to the food industry, you should always be ready for inspections by food safety agencies. You must ensure no traces of hazardous microbes are present in your work environment. You should be committed to following all the food safety laws to their maximum potential.

It is also critical for the staff to be aware of all the safety protocols, as these will help prevent foodborne illnesses. These food safety protocols will also ensure the safety of the meat by following the highest standards and help the plant grow through excellent customer ratings and increased consumer acceptance.

What Will Happen If Your Meat Production Plant Fails the Food Inspections?

After the food safety inspection has been carried out, your meat processing plant will receive a food health inspector report listing, which will include all of the negative and positive aspects identified during the inspection.

Your violations will be explained to you in the report, and you will be given a time frame to complete the requirements by improvement.

You will also be praised for successfully implementing the requirements. If you receive a violation, there is no need to panic unless the violation is critical. Instead of panicking, find a solution for the shortcomings identified in the report.

If the food violation is severe, your business will face a fine. You will be ordered to conduct meat recalls and might even need to close the company until you can fix the issue. Some violations may include:

  • Sick working staff on the premises.
  • Incomplete documentation for the meat products and processes.
  • Structural and maintenance problems of the building.
  • The staff is not following the employee health standards.
  • Improper storage for cooked and uncooked meat.
  • The detection of unwanted chemicals in uncooked meat.
  • Cross-contamination of the meat.
  • Poor maintenance of temperature control.
  • Improper meat waste management by the business.
  • The damaged meat packaging and improper labeling.

Inspections can happen anytime, but you will always be well-prepared if you approach them with food safety as an essential principle. To be readily prepared, use digital food safety management systems to make the inspection easier.

What Do Food Inspectors Look for When They Are Performing Food Inspections?

The food and health inspectors will generally inspect several aspects of your food business for health inspections. They are not searching for something to charge you upon because they can, nor are they trying to find reasons to close down your business.

Instead, they are there to ensure that food production and handling are safe for public consumption to reduce the risks associated with foodborne diseases. These food safety inspections are standard procedures to be followed. They are integral to surveillance programs for foodborne diseases, which the food regulatory and safety agencies establish to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses by addressing all safety concerns.

There are critical areas of concern about the safety of food that receive increased attention during the health inspection procedure. Being informed about these areas makes you prepared at all times to improve your chances of passing the health inspection scores.

Subsequently, it means that the food preparations and handling procedures all fall in line with food safety requirements. To make sure that your business is prepared to pass the food inspection checklist and areas, make sure to focus on these mentioned areas:

Design of Your Meat Processing Plants

The construction of your facility must be solid, the areas for meat preparation must be clean, proper drainage systems must be in place, the layout must support good hygiene practices, and employees must follow food safety protocols.

Type of Foods Being Prepared

High-risk foods (such as raw meat) have allergens or can become easily spoilt. These foods gain extra scrutiny from the inspectors through food inspection checklists as they require more specialized safety standards for the meat to be safe from foodborne disease outbreaks.

Employee Behavior and Hygiene

Food inspectors are also focused on checking how the working employees present their food safety practices and themselves while they work. The inspectors look for the absence of jewelry, unkempt hair, no long nails, how the employees wash their hands, their proper and clean uniform, and the overall discipline in the meat production plants and the meat preparation areas.

Labeling of Meat

The inspectors will also check for labels on the meat packets that will reflect the validity of the meat products and their description, including precautions such as allergen labeling. Adequate food labeling is needed to ensure that the raw materials and the finished products on the premises are all wholesome and safe for public consumption.

Practices of Meat Handling

This area will include the correct temperature control while the meat is frozen, displayed, cooked, and cooled. Additional safety parameters for temperatures will consist of cooking temperatures, cooling down, and reheating, which will be documented as proof that all meat processing operations follow food safety laws.

Maintenance of Equipment

The equipment maintenance will ensure that the appliances are clean, the details for their maintenance and calibration, and the cleanliness of oven and fridge door handles are all maintained. They also look for sharp edges, broken sockets, and faulty appliances. They also ensure safety precautions for sharp equipment such as grinding machines, meat cutters, and knives.

Cleaning Techniques and Their Schedules

Inspectors look for cleaning systems, such as color-coded equipment, to enable a more effective cleaning routine. They also look for directives to guide employees on utilizing these sanitizing and cleaning materials.

Food Safety Management Systems

It is the most critical part of food safety inspection. The inspectors look to see how efficient and effective the food safety management system is. This will include how the business records its basic food safety practices, what protocols are in place to keep the food safe, and how the food is monitored. Food inspectors want to see the HACCP plans alongside the documentation systems for the food safety management system, including the staff training procedures and food safety certifications. It helps ensure that the business follows all safety principles effectively.

Control of Pests

Since the problems harbor harmful bacteria and diseases that can severely contaminate the food products, the food inspectors look for signs of pest control to prevent foodborne illnesses. The inspectors can also test the staff’s knowledge of reporting and identifying pest infestations.

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What Are The Documents that a Food Business Will Need to Show to the Food Safety Inspectors?

Before an on-site inspection, food safety inspectors can request a food safety check. These checks will include your FSMS documentation, encompassing the HACCP plan for food producers. These checks will serve as evidence of the food safety approach being followed.

During on-site food safety inspection, the following common but critical documents may undergo food safety check:

Food Safety Manuals

These manuals contain details about equipment operation in meat processing, sanitation, and cleaning practices.

Safety Checklists

Food Safety Checklists cover various food business operations and help team members categorize tasks by urgency. They are vital components of the food safety management system, providing evidence of compliance with USDA and FDA meat regulations.

Monitoring Forms

These forms are records used to maintain compliance with food safety standards. They encompass cleaning, storage, delivery, sanitation, operational monitoring, and safe, documented operations schedules.


The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan is crucial to safety documentation for agencies like the FDA. This risk-based model outlines safety management systems for all food companies. The plan identifies and controls safety hazards, includes corrective and preventive actions, and outlines monitoring procedures.

Licenses and Work Permits

Government agencies require various permits and licenses, including meat handler cards for employees, public health licenses, and annual food permits. Operational rights may also require permits in certain countries.


Company certifications demonstrate business competency and standardized technical knowledge about food safety. Certifications may include food safety training certifications and food protection manager certifications.

Managing stacks of paper documents can be challenging, as they are prone to loss, manipulation, and damage. Therefore, organizing, compiling, and updating these documents using a digital food safety check system is advisable.

How Can AgTech’s Digital Food Safety Management System Prepare You For Your Next Inspection?

If you want the business to get a perfect score evaluation from the food safety inspectors, you must consistently maintain compliance with the food regulations and codes. The best way to manage this alongside the business is to use EcoDocs – a digital food safety management software offered by our company, Folio3 Software Inc.

EcoDocs will help you create a system for your business within no time. After you answer some basic questions about your food business, you will get a set of food safety checklists and monitoring forms that can be tailored to your business operations.

Some benefits that you will get by using EcoDocs are:

  • Quick solution delivery to prepare for your next inspection. Come across shortcomings in the business and have a timeframe to improve the system. EcoDocs can help you provide solutions before the inspection with successful implementation so that you can make your business compliant with food safety standards before the inspection.
    • You can also manage your certification schedules using our digital food safety management software by storing them in databases. When the reevaluation deadlines are approaching, automatic updates will be sent.
  • Our software will help ensure task completion. All the food safety operations tasks will be notified of the employee’s actions.
  • The software is compatible with electronic devices such as mobile phones, personal computers, and tablets. Its features are readily available and can ensure streamlined operations.
  • Your employees can complete our digital monitoring health inspection checklists and forms once they carry out food safety tasks.
  • Using our EcoDoc’s real-time dashboard will help you review the progress. You can even download the daily report, print it, and back it up for documentation for food safety evaluations to maintain a healthy record.
  • EcoDocs, our digital food safety management system, will also facilitate the training of your food workers.

How Does EcoDocs Play a Crucial Role in Maintaining Food Safety Regulations?

Folio3 Agtech has played a prominent role in helping food businesses maintain USDA food regulations and FDA meat regulations through EcoDocs. This all-in-one compliance solution promises safety and effectiveness.

It brilliantly manages all documentation, such as:

  • HACCP plans
  • Food safety audits
  • Food safety inspections

This efficient record-keeping ability organizes data in a manner that is readily available in case of surprise visits by those much-dreaded auditors and inspectors.


In conclusion, ensuring food safety in meat processing plants requires continuous vigilance and adherence to stringent standards. The article highlighted significant aspects of inspections and the importance of cleanliness, storage practices, thorough cooking, temperature control, and proper utilization of raw ingredients.

Failing inspections can lead to significant repercussions, such as fines and business closures, underlining the urgency for robust safety protocols and an effective management system. Hence, it is a good time for meat businesses to opt for food safety management systems like EcoDocs. With an automatically updated FSMS, you will not have to worry about food safety inspection by the authorities. You will always be ready.


What is the Point of Focus During Health Inspections?

Health inspections conducted by food inspectors aim to evaluate food businesses’ compliance with safety regulations and focus on foods that may require specific time and temperature maintenance as they can potentially be hazardous to consumers.

What are Some Things You Should Look for When Inspecting Food?

Here are the key elements you must focus on as a food inspector:

  • If cleanliness and hygiene practices are followed.
  • Maintenance of raw and cooked products.
  • Whether the food is cooked thoroughly or not.
  • Whether the products are stored at safe temperatures.
  • How the water and raw ingredients are utilized.

Does the FDA Regulate Meat Production?

No, it does not. The FDA only regulates the production of non-meat products, unusual meats, and fish.

What are the FDA Standards for Beef?

The FDA enforces the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) to ensure that commercially sold meat is safe, wholesome, and labeled. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) conducts inspections to meet these standards.

What is the Meat Act USA?

The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) was established to ensure that misbranded meat is not sold as food and that meat production is carried out along with the necessary sanitary practices. The FMIA Act regulates meat production in restaurants and slaughterhouses.

Which Act Provides Agents to Inspect Any Meat Processing Plant?

The FMIA inspects all meat processing plants to ensure healthy and safe products for consumers and customers.

What are the Two Requirements of the Meat Inspection Act?

  • Mandatory inspection of livestock before slaughter
  • Mandatory postmortem inspection of every carcass

Why is Meat Required to be Inspected by an Authorized Inspector?

To eradicate all potential hazards that may be caused by consuming contaminated or undercooked meat.

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