Teach me meat science, pretty please
June 26, 2013 12:01 AM   Subscribe

So, my meat business is spinning up. We've registered with the tax office, it's an official thing now. I've got a lot to learn, and a lot of things to figure out. We're going to be making and selling sausages, ham, smoked meats, all manner of things. Primarily we're going to be sending things online, as well as catering and possibly having a food truck to get the name out to drive the online sales. Special monkeywrench: this will all take place in Japan.

We're a small company focusing on hand-made speciality meats, specifically sausages, cured meats, smoked food (meat, cheeses, fish/seafood, nuts, etc) with a primary goal of selling to businesses (restaurants, and bars) as well as individual sales.

What I'm looking for, most spefically, is literature on determining sell-by and use-by dates. I'd like very much not to be responsible for customer deaths and/or illness. We're very, very careful about cleanliness, but meat will spoil. Are there websites or books you're aware of that I should be reading?

One area we'd like to move into would be bottled sauces, and I also am looking for information on bottling. Till now, all sauces we've used at events have been tossed after a week or a couple days, as per the recipes they're based on. What goes into bottling something so that it won't spoil in the bottle? What sort of equipment am I looking at? This is a longer term thing, not one of our start-up plans, but people have already approached us about being able to buy our sauces, and we'd like to be able to do that at some point.

Obviously, there are different laws in different countries, and we'll definitely make sure we're in line with Japanese food safety laws, but any information on small to medium-scale meat processing would be a huge help.
posted by Ghidorah to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are there websites or books you're aware of that I should be reading?

Is there a regulatory agency in Japan that can assist you?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:05 AM on June 26, 2013


There are, and my business partner (who is Japanese) will be looking into that, of course. What I'm looking for is information in English (my native language) that will help me to answer the questions I have. After I have that information, I will check to see how it applies, or can be applied, to Japanese regulations.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:12 AM on June 26, 2013


How about this Regulatory Compliance page at the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service? Drilling down, I'm finding documents like FSIS Compliance Guideline for Meat and Poultry Jerky Produced by Small and Very Small Establishments.
posted by XMLicious at 12:45 AM on June 26, 2013


From Penn State: Farmer's Guide to Processing and Selling Meat or Poultry. The list of resources at the end might also be of help to you. In addition, a list of regulations for Pennsylvania food entrepreneurs.

The guys at Torchbearer Sauces, a small, Pennsylvania-based firm, started their company from scratch. Might be worth an email to them.

Best of luck -- sounds like an interesting project!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:24 AM on June 26, 2013


(I am a chef/restuarant owner in Japan)

You might want to ask the meat guy

The reality is that food safety in Japan is much less strict than it is in say the U.S.A. If you are selling your products locally to restaurants you can get away with no labeling under the law. You and I know when meat is bad by using our senses, so will your customers. Are you planning on becoming a publicly traded company? If not then I would not worry about it.

for sauces you will need a pressure canner. The all-american is popular and worth importing when you consider the price of local solutions ($$$$). You should also get a brix meter calibrated for dissolved solids (to do brine strength and to determine how much salt has been absorbed into the meat). And a PH meter. PH and salinity being the most important factors when canning. Depending on the composition of your sauces you might be able to get away with using a boiling water canning process.

If you are really concerned about the food safety issues and have the money these guys will do all the work for you: Japan Food Research Laboratories
posted by Infernarl at 8:20 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network has a mailing list that I follow. It seems to runs the gamut from producers to processors to, I don't know, preparers? such as yourself. It seems to be moderated by a meat scientist at Oregon State University. The Meat We Eat is a text that has been mentioned on this list as essential for anyone involved in meat. It's a textbook and, as such, really expensive. However, since you're not in school, you can buy an older copy. Mine was either eight or twelve dollars, I forget which.

Congrats on your new business. I wish you luck.
posted by stet at 10:02 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You'd best be planning on having a Tokyo meat up (HAH! LOOK HOW CLEVER I AM!) once you're up and running!
posted by GoingToShopping at 3:07 AM on June 27, 2013


It would most likely be in Chiba. And it's supposed to be look how cleaver I am.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:17 AM on June 27, 2013


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