USDA Rules for Selling Meat in California

Do you plan on selling meat in California? If so, you need to be aware of the USDA rules for selling meat. Ignoring these rules could potentially wreak havoc on your business, leading to significant fines and penalties.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the USDA ensure that businesses adhere to the rules for selling meat in California.

USDA Rules for Selling Meat

usda rules for selling meat


You must source meat from USDA-inspected establishments. Every businessperson selling meat in California must possess a Meat and Poultry Inspection Certificate. This certificate provides assurance that the meat sold adheres to the USDA’s stringent quality standards.

Sanitary Standards

The preparation, storage, transportation, and display of your meat should comply with state sanitary standards. You must adopt all necessary measures to prevent contamination of meat during all these stages.


You must accurately label all of the meat you sell with details such as the type of meat, its cut, weight, price, and packing date. The USDA must validate any claims on your label such as ‘Free-Range’ or ‘Grass-Fed’.

The Humane Slaughter Act

According to this law, you must slaughter livestock by humane methods, ensuring a quick and painless death. Not only does this process allow for better quality meat, but it also shows respect and compassion for the animals.


Another essential rule for selling meat in California involves traceability. Producers and sellers must maintain precise records of the meat’s origin, slaughter, and processing to guarantee traceability. This rule helps provide a level of transparency to the consumers and also assists in the prompt response to possible foodborne disease outbreaks.

Non-amenable species

It’s crucial for businesses to be aware of the rules regarding the sale of non-amenable species. These are animals that aren’t regulated by the USDA like rabbit, venison, and bison. In California, these meats can only be sold when raised and slaughtered under the jurisdiction of the CDPH’s Approved Source Program.

Lastly, businesses need to be aware of city and county rules pertaining to the sale of meat. While we have primarily focused on the broader, state-wide rules for selling meat in California, local regulations and ordinances can also play an imperative role.

As a meat seller, you have a responsibility towards your consumers to deliver safe and quality products, ensuring that they always enjoy fresh, nutritious, and ethically handled meat.

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