Why become a certified abattoir?

A complete certified organic supply chain allows the consumer to have full confidence in the organic integrity of the end product. To ensure this organic integrity, livestock producers wishing to sell certified organic meat, must have their animals slaughtered at an abattoir which holds organic certification as a processor.

Processors can obtain organic certification through a certifying body by submitting documentation which ensures that the processing facility will not have any detrimental effects on the integrity of the final certified product. Following this, annual and unscheduled audits exist to ensure that the following five requirements are met:

  1. To ensure all relevant aspects of the Standard are maintained, such as adherence to allowed and prohibited inputs, cleaning and pest control products and maintenance of production facilities in compliance with the Standard.
  2. To ensure that the authenticity of the certified product is maintained during the processes of receival, preparation, packaging, and dispatch
  3. To ensure a clear and auditable trail is established and maintained for all certified product arriving, being prepared, stored and leaving the certified preparation facilities. This includes the ability for ready identification of all stored and in-process products.
  4. To ensure that all relevant documentation (including records) is available, to verify that all ingredients claimed as organic bare, or relate to appropriate labeling, documentation and current organic certification.
  5. To ensure that management, skills and education of staff and resources are sufficient to maintain effective compliance with the operator’s Organic Management or Handling Plan (or equivalent Standard Operating Procedures) and the Australian Certified Organic Standard.

There are a number of certified abattoirs located throughout Australia. These abattoirs may be certified by different organic certification bodies. The Organic Product Search tool on this website allows you to search for contact details of abattoirs certified by ACO Certification Ltd as well as certified meat packers and related businesses. Such abattoirs are denoted by a certification number, followed by P for processor, eg 1234P.

Alternatively, a producer may wish to cover the costs for a local abattoir to be audited and certified as a “contract processor”; such abattoirs may only perform services for a single organic producer. An abattoir with independent processor certification, on the other hand, may perform services for any number of organic producers.

The onus is on an operator to ensure the certification status of an abattoir is valid. This can be done by contacting the abattoir and asking for a copy of their organic certificate, or contacting your certification body. It is also a requirement of your certification with Australian Certified Organic that you are familiar with relevant sections of the Australian Certified Organic Standard – in particular section 6.2.

The scope of certification of abattoirs and related processing facilities are an important consideration for livestock producers to consider, when addressing different markets. If wishing to sell to overseas markets, it is important to ensure that the abattoir has the correct international certification. If in doubt contact your certification body.

Such considerations arise, for instance, where a producer who is NOP certified wishes to sell organic meat to the US market. In this case, the abattoir must also be NOP certified, denoted by USDA following their certification number.

Processing stock from a USDA certified property at an abattoir without USDA accreditation will result in loss of certification for that market.