Opinion by Dean Finkenbinder
With the holiday season upon us, many citizens of Wyoming are looking locally for the most common item on the table during the holiday season – turkey. Because of this, it’s important for all processors and citizens to understand rules and regulations that local poultry producers need to follow to process and sell poultry safely in Wyoming. Recently, articles have been published around the state about locally slaughtered and processed poultry that has not gone through the proper procedures to help ensure safety. This is concerning to us because unsafe processing practices puts citizens in danger and could cause unnecessary foodborne illness issues this season.
Local processing of poultry in Wyoming has become more popular in the recent past and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has procedures to accomplish this without having daily inspection by federal or state inspectors. While small local poultry processors are exempt from daily inspection, it’s important to point out that they are not exempt from other specific requirements that allow them to sell the slaughtered birds.
The Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) Consumer Health Services (CHS) is utilizing the federal guidance document titled Guidance for Determining Whether a Poultry Slaughter or Processing Operation is Exempt from Inspection Requirements of the Poultry Products Inspection Act for information on slaughtering and processing poultry under this exemption. This document can be accessed by going to the following website fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/Poultry_Slaughter_Exemption_0406.pdf or by contacting CHS at 307-777-7211 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
Here are some of the basic requirements to sell local processed poultry to restaurants, grocery stores, institutions, end consumers or at farmers’ markets under the 1,000 bird limit.
Restaurants, grocery stores and institutions are required to obtain food from approved sources. In order to be an approved source the local poultry producer must slaughter and process their poultry in a licensed and inspected facility but will not receive daily inspection.
The poultry producer/grower must have raised the birds from not more than one week of age, and they have to slaughter and process their own birds.
The slaughter and processing procedures must be conducted under sanitary standards, practices and procedures that produce products that are sound, clean, fit for human food and not adulterated.
The slaughter and processing facility, whether a mobile unit or a permanent building, must be completely enclosed and constructed of smooth, durable and easily cleanable surfaces. A list of construction requirements can be found in the Wyoming Food Safety Rule, which can be obtained by contacting the phone number or e-mail above.
Records must be maintained to include slaughter records, sales of poultry products to customers and age verification of the birds to show they are purchased/raised at less than one week of age.
The poultry products may only be sold within Wyoming and not across state lines.
While these establishments won’t be inspected on a daily basis, it’s important to know and follow these basic requirements to sell locally processed poultry. Food safety is a top priority of the WDA. If you have any questions about food safety or the requirements for processing poultry, please contact us at 307-777-7321.