Meat cannot be labeled or sold as organic unless the slaughter and processing happens at a USDA National Organic Program (NOP) certified facility.
A certified organic facility is different than having a USDA or state meat inspection. Organic handlers must comply with all other federal, state and local inspection program requirements. It’s important to plan for accessing a certified organic facility if choosing to raise organic livestock.
The organic certification requirements for a slaughter facility focus on the prevention of commingling or contamination of organic product within the facility and auditability of the documentation trail from when the animal enters the facility to the departure of the finished product.
Sanitizers and cleaners used on equipment and in direct contact with products must be approved for use — as stated by the National List and USDA NOP regulations — and meat cannot be irradiated.
Any certified organic animal processed at a non-certified facility immediately loses its organic status upon delivery. It may not be sold as organic. Livestock can be sold “on the hoof,” meaning that a buyer takes ownership of the live animal or portion of the live animal prior to slaughter.
The USDA NOP regulations require that unless exempt or excluded, operations that produce or handle livestock, livestock products or other agricultural products that are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be certified according to the regulations. The term “handler” includes livestock slaughter facilities.