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  Meat & Poultry Inspection Division

Protecting the health of the citizens of West Virginia . . .

Robert Pitts, DVM, Director

Who We Are

Mandatory Requirements for Licensed Facilities

What We Do
Who We Inspect Licensed Distributor Establishments

Who Needs to Be Licensed

Licensed Commercial Establishments

How to Apply for Inspection

Licensed Custom Establishments

Legislative Rules

Licensed Commercial Establishment Services

Contact Us

Who We Are

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Meat and Poultry Inspection Division is a State-Federal cooperative meat and poultry inspection program. Our basic purpose is to provide for the inspection, labeling and disposition of animals, poultry, carcasses, and meat and poultry products which are to be sold or offered for sale though commercial outlets for human consumption; and inspecting and licensing commercial and custom slaughterhouses and/or meat and poultry processing facilities located in the State of West Virginia. The Federal government periodically verifies that our Program is at least "equal to" the Federal meat and poultry inspection program. After our last Federal review, we were rated one of the best meat and poultry inspection programs in the country.


Title 61 Series 16
Inspection of Meat and Poultry
(Click to view the information.)

What We Do

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Meat and Poultry Inspection Division provides continuous inspection of commercial slaughter and processing facilities, periodic inspection of custom plants, and has licensed about 180 meat and poultry distributors which are subject to random compliance reviews. Our inspectors give each animal offered for slaughter an abbreviated veterinary clinical examination while it is still alive to notice symptoms of disease that may not be reflected after slaughter. Postmortem inspection includes routine incisions, palpation, and observation of the animal carcass, its lymphatic system, and inspection of internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, spleen, and intestines. Only totally healthy carcasses may be branded with a West Virginia Department of Agriculture inspection legend and used for processing or offered for sale. It's much more than a "sight and smell" operation. Tests are run to detect any antibiotic or sulpha residues and samples are taken for bacteriological or pathological examinations. Any contamination leads to the condemnation of the affected product. Strict processing inspection based on scientific principles is carried out daily to assure that meat and poultry products leaving the plant are safe. The inspectors ensure that all rooms, compartments, and equipment in the plant are clean, sanitary, and properly maintained before they allow daily operations to begin. If a deficiency is found, the plant must remedy the problem and request the inspector to reinspect before operations can continue. Incoming raw materials, non-meat ingredients and processing technologies, such as cooking, smoking, or curing are under our inspectors' control. All ingredients used for meat or poultry product preparation are inspected for their quality, freshness, and compliance with national standards. No coloring agent, preservative, or binder which is not FDA-approved can be used in meat or poultry processing. The amounts of allowable additives are constantly monitored by the inspectors and can only be added in the amounts allowed by the nationally approved processing procedure. Samples of finished products are taken on a regular basis to monitor product compliance with national standards of identity and composition. Additional samples are taken to test for chemical residues and some potentially dangerous compounds, such as nitrosoamines in bacon or increased levels of nitrites in cured products. A finished meat or poultry product must be labeled using a label that has previously been approved by the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division and which carries truthful information. The label on products inspected by our Division carries a WVDA inspection legend which certifies that the product has been inspected, is wholesome, free from adulteration, and prepared from healthy animals under sanitary conditions. Our Compliance Officers review hundreds of stores, restaurants, distributors, and warehouses to assure that all products which are offered for sale have been inspected, are being stored properly, and have not been adulterated or contaminated since they left the packing house. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division handles consumer complaints about unwholesome meat and poultry being sold in stores.

Who We Inspect

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Meat and Poultry Inspection Division provides continuous inspection of commercial slaughter and processing facilities, periodic inspection of custom plants, and conducts random and planned compliance reviews of meat and poultry distributors.

Who Needs to be Licenced

Every commercial slaughterer, custom slaughterer, commercial processor, custom processor, or distributor must obtain a license from the Commissioner of Agriculture prior to initiation of operations. Commercial plants are engaged for profit in the business of slaughtering animals or poultry and/or processing carcasses, meat products or poultry products for human consumption, which are to be sold or offered for sale through a commercial outlet or establishment. Licensed commercial facilities may also choose to provide custom slaughter or processing services. Custom plants are engaged for profit in the business of slaughtering animals or poultry and/or producing meat or poultry products for human consumption which are not to be sold or offered for sale through a commercial outlet, commercial establishment distributor, or to an individual. Basically, this means that if you have an animal you would like to use as food for your family and nonpaying guests you could take that animal to a custom facility to have it slaughtered and processed. A custom operator provides his service, but meat remains the animal owner's property. The owner takes home all parts of the animal for his or her use. No part of the animal can be offered for sale since it has not been inspected before slaughter and during processing. Distributors are engaged for profit in the business where carcasses, meat products or poultry products are received from state inspected establishments, or establishments inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture and who store and distribute to commercial outlets, processors or individuals, and who conduct no processing. Distributors handle only products packaged at the establishment where they were manufactured, and are not allowed to open individual packages for any further processing.

How to Apply for Inspection

An applicant for a license shall complete the application to include all information requested. An application fee is required based on the number of animals slaughtered or the number of pounds processed. Distributors pay only a $5 annual application fee. Only the applicant named in the application may conduct operations at the establishment for which the license is granted. Applicants must submit three sets of complete drawings containing a plot plan showing the limits of the establishment's premises, locations in outline of buildings on the premises, cardinal points of the compass, and roads and railroads serving the establishment; the floor plans of the establishment for which inspection is requested, showing the locations of principle pieces of equipment, floor drains, principle drainage lines, handwashing basins and hose connections for cleanup purposes; and a room schedule showing the finish of walls, floors, and ceilings of all rooms in the establishment. Three sets of specifications must also be submitted. These specifications should include statements describing water supply, plumbing, drainage, refrigeration, equipment, lighting, and operations to be performed at the establishment. Finally, a current potable water certificate and sewage approval must be obtained from your local health department. Prepare to Open Your Business When these documents have been submitted to our Division, our resident experts will examine them and give approval for you to begin building your facility. If the drawings do not guarantee that the proposed facility will create conditions for slaughter and/or processing under sanitary conditions, they will be returned along with our recommendations on the changes or improvements needed to comply with technical requirements for a proposed facility. If you would like to use an existing facility, our review team will visit your establishment and make suggestions to enable your facility to begin operations as soon as all the minimum requirements are met.

Mandatory Requirements for Licensed Facilities

Licensed facilities must be able to provide a clean and sanitary environment for the production of wholesome and unadulterated meat and poultry products. In order to do that, certain precautions should be taken to prevent possible contamination. You should contact our office for a booklet containing a total list of mandatory requirements for licensed plants and to discuss which requirements would be applicable to your plant.

Thank you for visiting our webpage. When you shop, look for meat and poultry products carrying West Virginia inspection legends for a guarantee of wholesomeness and quality.

Robert Pitts, DVM, Director


In accordance with Federal and State Laws, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture is prohibited from discrimination in its programs and services on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, disability (including blindness), medial condition, martial status, veteran status, and political affiliation.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write or call:

West Virginia Department of Agriculture
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
(304) 558-2206


USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-9410
(800) 795-3272 (Voice)
(202) 720-6382 (TDD)

This Department is an equal opportunity employer and service provider.



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