There are many benefits to having animals meant for human consumption slaughtered at the slaughterhouse versus other locations, such as a backyard operation. Cleanliness, proper disposal of unwanted parts, following health regulations and the use of skilled employees are among the benefits of a slaughterhouse.
A slaughterhouse employee should be trained in his or her craft, such as a butcher or veterinarian. A well-trained butcher ensures proper and safe cuts of the meat. Also a well-trained butcher can work efficiently and confidently. For example, an ill-trained butcher, such as one not employed at a slaughterhouse, could cost the employer and the public extra by wasting product or compromising safety.
Employees of a regulated slaughterhouse are required to be familiar with the animals they come into contact with and be competent in their craft. Those involved with handling or transporting the animals are also required to be patient and knowledge of that particular animals behavior patterns. For example, a undertrained or ill-trained employee transporting animals for slaughter could cause unnecessary hardship and stress on the animals. The distress could compromise the animals' health resulting in a sickly-appearing animal.
The United States Department of Agriculture and the Organization for Animal Health requires a veterinarian be on site in a regulated slaughterhouse to ensure animal health and safety. Having a veterinarian on staff at the slaughterhouse ensures animals going in for slaughter are healthy, disease- and parasite-free and fit for human consumption. A person without knowledge of animal health could allow a sick animal or animal with contagious parasites be slaughtered, compromising safety for meat handlers as well as those who would consume the product. For example, if a diseased animal is allowed to pass on for slaughter, the tainted meat could end up in a local supermarket. A well-regulated slaughterhouse with trained staff prevents this from happening.
The veterinarian on staff at the slaughterhouse is just one stop at a long line of safety precautions to prevent illness or contamination to the public and the slaughterhouse employees. A USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspector inspects the product from the slaughterhouse and the slaughterhouse facility to ensure cleanliness and safety procedures are being followed. The inspector also checks employees of the slaughterhouse to confirm their competency.
Cleanliness before and after slaughter are important in maintaining a healthy work environment and producing a safe product. In a slaughterhouse, strict federal health guidelines are followed to ensure these.
A regulated slaughterhouse is to have easily washable equipment, nonporous surfaces to avoid spread of contamination, sufficient drainage of liquid materials and proper lighting for employee safety. A regulated slaughterhouse must also have a floor plan which keeps livestock that is to be slaughtered away from post-slaughter product, well-running and maintained septic and sewage facilities, pest control and clean water that is fit for drinking.
Proper disposal of unwanted animal parts at the slaughterhouse also maintains sanitation. Proper disposal ensures potentially undesirable parts such as stomach acids or intestine contents are not in contact with meat for consumption. Ensuring proper disposal of unused animal parts also helps keep the environment around the slaughterhouse uncontaminated.