BOAH Updates Meat Testing Requirements

State-inspected meat processing facilities in Indiana must now receive clear test results on their meat products before shipping them.

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU News

    A sign shows the hours of operation outside Pohlman's Custom Killing-Processing. The meat processing center is located in Terre Haute.

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU News

    On an average week, Pohlman's will process between 15 and 20 head of cattle. They also process hogs, sheep, goats and deer when they are in season.

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU NewsJulie Rawe/WFIU News

    Forrest Owens stands in front of freshly butchered beef at Pohlman's Custom Killng-Processing in Terre Haute. Owens is a safety inspector with the USDA.

  • Ted Pohlman

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU News

    USDA consumer safety inspector Forrest Owens inspects beef at Pohlman's Custom Killing-Processing in Terre Haute.

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU News

    A worker separates the better cuts from what will eventually be turned into ground beef at his processing facility in Terre Haute.

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU News

    Beef ribs sit ready to be packaged at the Pohlman Custom Killing-Processing facility in Terre Haute.

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    Photo: Julie Rawe/WFIU News

    A worker trims the fat from cuts of meat at his processing facility in Terre Haute.

As he points out different kinds of meat—mostly pork and beef—that have been freshly butchered and are waiting to be packaged, Ted Pohlman says when raw beef is your business, inspections are part of everyday life.

“After we grind some meat, then the federal government will come in and take a test for ecoli, so we have to be very very careful,” says Pohlman, who is the owner of Custom Killing meat processing plant in Terre Haute.

The facility is regularly inspected by the USDA, which means the company is certified to ship meat all over the country, but until last Friday they were not required to wait for test results before shipping products such as ground beef.

Indiana Board of Animal Health meat and poultry inspection director David Bough says the process was not required, but it was recommended.

“Nearly all of our plants, I’d say 99 percent, are holding product until they get the results, and when it is released, it sometimes is by mistake. One of the employees isn’t aware that testing was taken or something and the product was shipped,” he says.

Forrest Owens is the federal government employee who comes to check Pohlman’s meat. He says the real problem is not having enough state and federal inspectors who can catch problems during and after slaughter.

“I would say tightening the regulations isn’t the factor,” he says. “The number of inspectors available to do the inspection is the factor. Because you can tighten it all you want to, and if there’s only a few people doing it, you can’t get it all done.”

Still, according to Board of Animal Health statistics, 20 percent of recalls between 2007 and 2011 could have been prevented if the regulation had been in place.

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