Table of Contents

1. Overview

Natural progression from live animal to carcass to meat:

  • Animals are transported, offloaded and kept for slaughter in a manner that does not involve unnecessary pain.
  • Clean water is provided continuously.
  • Depending on the time they have to wait for slaughtering, food, in accordance with their needs, is provided.
  • The animals are handled in a humane way at all times.
  • Inspectors perform an ante mortem examination to determine if the animals are healthy and ready for slaughtering.
  • Sick animals are isolated and dead animals are disposed of by an acceptable method which may include rendering, burning or denaturation.
  • Care is taken that only meat from healthy animals reaches the consumer.
  • All animals are inspected to determine whether they have any latent diseases.
  • A routine meat inspection is done on the carcass and offal of each animal by trained meat inspectors.
  • Carcasses are now classified. Meat is classified to provide the consumer information relating to the age and fat thickness on the carcass.
  • After final approval, the carcasses are chilled immediately to stop germs/micro organisms from multiplying or causing accidental contamination. Meat is now kept cold and the temperature is kept constant until the product reaches the consumer. (It is important not to break the cold chain from after slaughtering until the meat is cooked and consumed).
  • During the entire process, hands are washed regularly, instruments are sterilised (boiled) and clean protective clothes are worn daily.
  • All surfaces coming into contact with meat are cleaned and sanitized on a routine basis.
  • The health care of the workers handling the meat is a high priority to eliminate problems with regard to germs/micro organisms or contagious diseases that can be transmitted to the meat.
  • A great effort is made to make certain that meat leaving the abattoir is clean, safe, nutritious and in a wholesome condition to ensure a relatively long shelf life.

The Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA) has compiled a summary document containing the laws, regulations and codes regarding animal welfare – handling and transportation of livestock. Please contact them for information. Write to marketing [at] or call 012 349 1237/8/9.

Animal welfare

National Society Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA)

Veterinarian: vet [at]

"How many abattoirs adhere to the clauses that animals must not experience unnecessary pain, have continuous access to clean H20 and be provided with food if kept for longer periods of time?" This is among the questions asked by meat inspectors and the NSPCA.


2. International business environment

  • Visit the website of the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) The IMS brings together meat and livestock organisations throughout the world.
  • Google “World Meat Congress” to find details of the next annual event.
  • An international website is
  • – website of the International Organization for Standardization. The ISO 17020 gives assurance of the quality of meat and meat products from recognized abattoirs.
  • – website of the American Meat Science Association

Major meat exporting countries are Australia, the USA, Brazil, the European Union (EU) and Canada. Major importing countries are the USA, Japan, Russia, the EU, Mexico and South Korea.

South Africa: imports and exports

The following are the requirements for registering to supply the meat export market:

  1. Animals need to be individually and permanently identified at least 3 months before slaughter.
  2. Animals must be of South African origin.
  3. Farmers must supply a detailed plan of their farm, buildings and fences.
  4. Don’t use hormones, steroids, growth stimulants, animal by-products or feed stimulants.
  5. Only natural food may supplement veld.
  6. Veld must be clearly marked, identified, rotated, and rested for one season before being used.
  7. Feed must be stored in a dry area away from chemicals and fertilisers and be kept safe from vermin, mould and dust.
  8. Feed and water troughs must be clean and well maintained.
  9. Stock Registers must contain the following information: a) Dates of arrival at the farm. b) Origin. c) Identification numbers. d) Any treatment and vaccination dates. e) Number of deaths (with reasons). f) The dates of dispatch to the Abattoir.
  10. Disease Control Measures: a) Notify State Vet in the event of the outbreak of a disease. b) Treated animals must be kept in a separate camp. c) Intra-muscular injections must only be given in the neck. d) Observe the stipulated withdrawal periods for any therapeutic remedy used. e) Send the head of any animal that dies to the nearest Vet. To check for Mad Cow Disease.
  11. Dipping areas must be sealed when not in use.
  12. Record all chemicals used.
  13. All chemicals must be environmentally friendly.
  14. Allow the export Abattoir to conduct soil, water and feed analysis for heavy metals prior to registration.
  15. Transport must be well coordinated and the trucks should never be overloaded.
  16. Cattle branding must be completed 3 weeks before slaughter.
  17. De-horn cattle before weaning.
  18. Animals must be subjected to minimum stress during the 3 week period before slaughter.

Included in the annual Bureau for Food & Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline is a comparative look at the different meat sorts and the global picture of how well they are doing. Find the document at