Meat Facility Standards

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Responsibilities of the Operator | Premises | Transportation and Storage | Equipment | Personnel | Sanitation and Pest Controls | Recall | Manufacturing Controls | Appendix 1: Glossary of Terms

The Meat Facility Standards (MFS) is a policy document legislated by the Meat Inspection Regulation, Alberta Regulation 42/2003. It is a HACCP based program using internationally accepted food hygiene principles and consists of sections, which include prerequisite programs and manufacturing controls.
The MFS applies to all provincially licensed meat facilities regulated by Food Safety & Animal Welfare Division of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. It provides a firm foundation for good manufacturing and hygienic practices and allows operators to control and prevent relevant food safety hazards and to identify meat-borne risks to human health ultimately resulting in improved food safety.

Responsibilities of the Operator

The operator has specific responsibilities to develop, implement and maintain the programs as required by the MFS.


To ensure the facility is designed, constructed, equipped and maintained in a manner that:

  • permits the operations within the facility to be performed under sanitary conditions;
  • permits effective cleaning and sanitation of all surfaces; and
  • prevents the contamination of meat and meat products.
The design and construction of facilities must incorporate features to prevent hazards that could affect food safety. These features must provide a processing environment suitable for operational needs and control product and employee flow to minimize cross-contamination. The features must also permit easy cleaning and sanitation, control the entry and harbouring of pests, and control the entry of environmental contaminants such as smoke and dust. Regular maintenance is required to prevent deterioration of the facility. "Premises" includes all elements in the building and building surroundings.

Transportation and Storage

To ensure that meat and meat products are transported, received, stored and handled under conditions that:
  • protect them from potential sources of contamination (chemical, physical or biological);
  • protect them from damage likely to render them unsuitable for human consumption; and
  • provide an environment which effectively controls the growth of pathogenic or spoilage micro-organisms and the production of toxins in meat and meat products.
Meat and meat products may become contaminated during storage and/or transportation, or may not reach their destination in a suitable condition for human consumption, unless effective control measures are taken during storage and transport, even where adequate hygiene control measures have been taken earlier in the food chain or production process.


To ensure equipment and containers used in the facility are designed, constructed, maintained, operated and arranged in a manner that:
  • permits the effective cleaning and sanitizing of its surfaces;
  • prevents contamination of the food; and
  • permits it to function in accordance with its intended use and where appropriate is properly calibrated.
The purpose of these requirements is to prevent the contamination of food by micro-organisms, dust and foreign material such as rust and lubricants. In addition, these requirements prevent the cross-contamination with other food, which is of particular concern for people with food allergies. Poor design and construction may result in equipment that is difficult to clean and requires a higher level of maintenance. Contamination problems may also arise from poor maintenance, misuse of equipment, exceeding the capacity of the equipment, using worn-out equipment, and improperly modifying equipment. Equipment arranged in an orderly manner permits cleaning of adjacent areas, alleviates interference with other processing operations and minimizes cross-contamination by personnel.
Equipment should be located so that it permits adequate maintenance and cleaning, function in accordance with its intended use and facilitates good hygiene practices, including monitoring. Where necessary, such equipment should be durable and movable or capable of being disassembled to allow for maintenance, cleaning, disinfection, and monitoring.


To ensure all personnel at the facility maintain an appropriate degree of personal cleanliness and hygiene and follow proper food handling practices.

People who conduct activities, which are inappropriate in a food producing facility (e.g., spitting, chewing gum, etc.), who do not maintain an appropriate degree of personal cleanliness, and/or have certain illnesses or conditions may result in contamination of food. This could pose a potential threat to the safety of food and its suitability for consumption and/or potentially could transmit illness to consumers.

Sanitation and Pest Control

To establish effective sanitation and pest control programs ensuring:
  • proper cleaning and sanitation of facilities, equipment and utensils to prevent the contamination of food;
  • effective monitoring of cleaning and sanitation; and.
  • effective and safe pest control.
Sanitation and pest control in a meat processing facility directly influences the safety and quality of meat and meat products. Production of safe products requires that they be produced with equipment and in an area that is free from environmental and microbial contamination. Sanitation and pest control programs that are written, practiced and monitored will provide assurance that levels of cleanliness and sanitation are maintained.


To ensure an effective recall program is in place which would permit any lot of product posing a risk to human health to be rapidly and efficiently removed from the marketplace.

A recall is an effective method of removing products from the market when they pose a health hazard to consumers. A product coding system and a product distribution list are essential for identifying products that represent a potential risk to the health of consumers, so the products can be removed from the marketplace. The recall program must be tested periodically to validate its effectiveness (e.g. through a mock recall).

Manufacturing Controls

To ensure products are handled and processed in such a manner that does not pose a risk to human health, including:
  • documentation of handling/processing procedures;
  • controls and monitoring as required to ensure product safety;
  • documentation to substantiate that control procedures were achieved; and
  • verification that these procedures are complete and effective.
It is more effective to ensure product safety by implementing process controls than by testing the finished product. Incorporation and adherence to processing controls will enhance the food safety.

Appendix 1: Glossary of Terms

Food safety related terms and definitions.

"Abattoir" means a premises, including a multi-location abattoir,
    (i) where animals are slaughtered, or
    (ii) where animals are slaughtered and meat is
      • prepared;
      • packaged; or
      • stored.
"Aerosol" means a dispersion of solid and liquid particles suspended in gas or mist (e.g. bacteria and other micro-organisms can be suspended in the air in a meat processing facility).

"Allergen" means a substance that causes an allergic response in some individuals; and may result in a runny nose, watery and/or itchy eyes, a rash, wheezing or (occasionally) death.

"Auditor" means any person appointed by the Director to carry out audit functions with respect to the MFS and applicable meat inspection legislation.

"Biological hazard" means any micro-organism, or toxin produced by a micro-organism, that can cause food-borne illness when ingested.

"Chemical hazard" means any chemical that may be toxic to humans and may cause immediate or long-term negative effects when ingested or inhaled.

"Cleaning" means the removal of soil, food residue, dirt, grease and other objectionable material.

"Critical Control Point (CCP)" means a processing step at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level. A CCP is also called a Manufacturing Control Point (MCP).

"Critical limit" means a criterion that separates acceptability from unacceptability.

"Cross-contamination" means an occurrence when disease-carrying micro-organisms are transferred from one food or surface to another, carried by utensils, hands, towels, or other food. Cross-contamination of food is a common factor in the cause of food-borne illnesses.

"Deviation" means a failure to meet required limits for a Manufacturing Control Point (Critical Control Point), or a failure to meet a standard identified in a Meat Facility Standards.

"Deviation procedure" means a pre-determined and documented set of corrective actions (immediate and preventative) that are implemented when a deviation occurs.

"Facility" includes all elements in the building and also includes elements in the building's surroundings (i.e., the outside property; roadways; drainage; building design and construction; product flow; sanitary facilities; and quality and supply of water, ice, and steam).

"Food contact surface" means a surface with which carcasses; parts of carcasses, ingredients or meat products at a licensed meat facility ordinarily come into contact with.

"Hazard" means a condition or circumstance having the potential to cause harm. Hazards can be biological, chemical, or physical.

"Ingredient" means an individual unit of food that is combined with one or more other individual units of food to form an integral unit of food.

"Licensed meat facility" means a meat facility licensed by ARD.

"Maintained" means kept up to date (at a minimum frequency of annually) and reflecting current operating conditions within the licensed meat facility.

"Manufacturing Controls" means controls put in place in order to ensure that prescribed tolerances or limits are maintained at various processing steps in a manufacturing process.

"Meat facility" means an abattoir, mobile butcher facility, slaughter operation or processing operation and includes any other facility designated as a meat facility by regulation.

"Meat Facility Standards (MFS)" means a food safety program standard that includes prerequisite program (Good Manufacturing Practices) criteria (e.g., sanitation and pest control, recall, etc.) and process control criteria (i.e., manufacturing controls).

"Mock recall" means a process designed to assess the effectiveness of a company’s recall program, and the readiness of the recall team. A mock recall involves all steps of the recall program, except that no product is actually recalled.

"Monitoring" means the act of conducting a planned sequence of observations or measurements of control parameters to assess whether a Critical Control Point (CCP) Mandatory Control Point (MCP) or specific part of the Meat Facility Standards program is under control. This includes recording the results of those observations.

"Operational separation/controls" means the separation of processing activities, by means other than physical separation, to ensure incompatible processing activities do not cause product contamination; commonly a separation in time, following sanitation or through use of some other procedure.

"Personal hygiene" means the combination of an individual’s practices and style that relates to cleanliness (e.g., healthy habits that include bathing, wearing clean clothing and, most importantly, washing hands frequently before handling edibles to contribute to the safe delivery of food).

"Pest" means any animal or insect of public health importance including, but not limited to, birds, rodents, roaches, flies and larvae that may carry pathogens that can contaminate foods.

"Physical hazard" means any foreign material (> 2mm) that could cause injury or illness if ingested.

"Physical separation" means the separation of processing activities by physical means to ensure incompatible processing activities do not cause product contamination; commonly a wall or separate processing rooms.

"Potable water" means water that is safe for human consumption. It meets Health Canada guidelines for drinking water quality.

"Premises" means the lands, surrounding areas, buildings and facilities of the licensed meat facility.

"Prerequisite programs" means universal steps or procedures that control the operational conditions which within a food facility and promotes environmental conditions that are favourable for the production of safe food.

"Preventative Measure" means a corrective action resulting from an investigation to determine the cause of the deviation. A preventative measure includes subsequent steps required to prevent reoccurrence of the deviation.

"Ready-to-eat (RTE)" means, in respect of a meat product, an edible meat product that has been subjected to a process sufficient to inactivate vegetative pathogenic micro-organisms or their toxins and control spores of food-borne pathogenic bacteria, so that the meat product does not require further preparation before consumption, except thawing or exposing the product to sufficient heat to warm the product without cooking it.

"Recall" means a system by which products that may be hazardous to consumers are removed from the marketplace.

"Record" means a document in physical or electronic medium, which clearly shows evidence of activities performed, data recorded and results achieved.

"Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemical Products" means a current list of materials and non-food chemicals that have been found by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to be acceptable for use in licensed meat facilities.

"Risk" means an estimate of the likely occurrence of a hazard.

"Sanitation program" means a written program to ensure that the buildings, equipment, utensils, transport containers and all other physical facilities of the facility are maintained in a sanitary condition.

"Sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs)" means a document that clearly describes how a specific cleaning and sanitizing activity is done (e.g., an SSOP for a meat grinder).

"Sanitize" means to reduce the level of micro-organisms to a level that will not compromise the safety of the meat product.

"Technical Interpretation Policy Manual (TIPM)" means a document created by ARD that further explains the specific technical details and requirements of the MFS and Meat Inspection Regulation.

"Traceability" means the ability to follow inputs and products, their location and their associated history, use and attributes backwards and forwards throughout the food chain.

"Validation" means obtaining scientific confirmation or proof that the elements of the food safety system are complete and effective in controlling biological, chemical, and physical hazards. This may include: ingredient product sampling, end product sampling, challenge studies, heat distribution, process validation studies, and statistical analysis.

"Verification" means a company’s use of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring, to determine its conformance to and the effectiveness of its HACCP or HACCP-base system.

For a more detailed, printable version of the Meat Facility Standards, download the pdf.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Becky Best.
This information published to the web on August 1, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 26, 2018.