All establishments operating under the “Equal To” Inspection Program are required to have Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP’s) and a HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) in place. These measures help ensure that meat and poultry processors are producing safe products. These requirements can be fairly complicated, so it is important to learn the basics before starting a meat or poultry processing business.


SSOP's are written procedures that describe the establishment’s cleaning program and the records used to monitor that cleaning is being performed regularly. The program needs to describe sanitary personnel practices and operations used to keep the environment and plant facilities in a clean condition. There are very specific requirements for the type of procedures that the SSOP’s need to contain and the type of monitoring that needs to take place to meet program requirements. The regulatory requirements for SSOP’s can be found in 9 CFR 416.11-416.16.

The HACCP Plan

A HACCP plan is the written food safety plan for the establishment. This plan covers biological, chemical, and physical food safety hazards that may arise during the production process. The HACCP is implemented to control these hazards in products and ensure the production of safe products. The regulatory requirements for HACCP in meat inspection can be found in 9 CFR 417.

The development of SSOP’s and a HACCP plan that meets the regulatory requirements can be very challenging.  It is important to become familiar with these concepts before developing a plan or modifying an existing one. There are many examples of procedures and plans that can be used as a basis for developing your own; however, please remember that every process is different. There are no “cookie-cutter” plans, and most plans need to be modified to reflect your individual process. The requirements for HACCP and SSOP are continually evolving, and the MDA will work with you to adapt to new requirements.