At-home slaughter could pose more risks than benefits


At-home slaughter could pose more risks than benefits

Photo courtesy of Bailey Harsh

A University of Illinois meat science professor says attempting to slaughter livestock at home for meat during COVID-19 food supply changes could pose more risks than benefits.

Bailey Harsh tells Brownfield the Illinois Meat and Poultry Inspection Act does exempt Illinois producers from inspection requirements when harvesting their animals owned 30 days prior to slaughter, on their own property for their own consumption, but there are other hurdles to work through.

“We don’t really encourage that practice without someone there who has extensive experience because there is just usually too much risk associated with that.”

She says having the proper knowledge and equipment to ensure animal welfare, food safety and personal safety are top priority, so it is critical to have someone with experience and personal protective equipment on site.

“To protect themselves, but also to protect them from contaminating those meat products that their producing. We just don’t have that same level of control with home slaughter and without that level of control you really would be putting yourself more at risk.”

With hotter summer days approaching, she says meat processing must be done at a temperature that minimizes microbial growth and many homes and farms do not have that capability.  

Harsh says both producers and rural consumers showed interest in home slaughter during the recent shortage of meat in grocery stores caused by COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions, but she expects the interest will weaken as large packing plants inch closer to working at full capacity.

Interview with Bailey Harsh

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