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.

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 water and be provided with food if kept for longer periods of time?” This is among the questions asked by meat inspectors and the NSPCA.

International business environment

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.


Further reference:

  • The latest Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade by the Foreign Agricultural Service arm of the US Department of Agriculture looks at the global supply and demand of chicken, beef and pork.
  • 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
  • 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


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.


Local business environment

The fundamental factors that underpin meat consumption are income levels and the resultant changes in spending power, population growth and urbanisation.

The sensitivity of meat products to collapsed GDP growth and consequently also spending power was evident in 2020, when per capita consumption of beef, pork and lamb declined by 5.8, 8.4 and 16.5 percent respectively. Consumption of poultry products, which is the most affordable amongst the four major meat types, increased by less than 1% year on year.

While consumption levels in 2020 were also influenced by reduced food service operations and are therefore not attributable to spending power alone, the stagnation in economic activity in recent years prior to any influence by the pandemic, already resulted in weaker consumption growth during the past decade relative to the early 2000’s. The prolonged nature of the economic recovery, combined with further increases in unemployment as a result of the pandemic, will likely result in markedly slower meat consumption growth in the coming decade.

Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) 2021-2030 Baseline

South Africa has approximately 431 abattoirs slaughtering cattle, pigs and sheep on an annual basis. Approximately 40% of all slaughterings are performed by abattoirs that may slaughter an unlimited number of animals (Class A) and approximately 60% of cattle are slaughtered by highly regulated abattoirs (Class A & B). Most of these abattoirs have linkages with feedlots. South Africa’s meat imports exceed her exports, making the country a net importer. Local markets include butcheries, supermarkets, hotels, institutions, colleges, schools and restaurants.

Source: A Profile of the South African Beef Market Value Chain


Further reference:

  • Slaughter statistics can be found at, website of the Red Meat Levy Admin (RMLA).
  • Keep your eye on websites like and
  • The latest Abstract of Agricultural Statistics includes categories like “Cattle numbers, numbers slaughtered and average prices of beef”, “Production and consumption of veal”, “Sheep, lambs and goats – numbers slaughtered at abattoirs, average prices of mutton, production and consumption”. Find it on
  • The annual Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline includes an overview of meat under “Outlook for animal products”. Find the document at
  • Market outlook can also be found in the agricultural weeklies – Landbouweekblad and Farmer’s Weekly – or visit their websites: and

For the newcomer

One strategic objective of National Emergent Red Meat Producers Organisation (NERPO) is to pursue business opportunities in the livestock and meat production chain for the advantage and benefit of the emerging producers. Visit


Photo used courtesy of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DALRRD)

National strategy and government contacts

The Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) is expected to follow on from the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) and the National Development Plan (NDP), in encouraging the country to tap into the huge potential in the meat value chain, particularly the informal livestock market. Strategically placed abattoirs and training in production standards, meat quality and value added products could assist smallholder farmers and rural development.

The pre-condition of an effective animal health system that receives the overall buy-in and support from all social partners, with government accepting its responsibility in driving the health system, will create opportunities for inclusive growth and the creation of jobs in the meat value chain (BFAP, 2021).

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Find the Abattoir lists, Veterinary Public Health Manuals and other information under “Veterinary Public Health”. Take the “Branches” option at Application forms, Guidelines and contacts at DALRRD are all available.

Legislation governing the prevention of cruelty to animals specifically pertaining to transport, stunning and sticking of animals at abattoirs include:

  • The Animal Protection Act
  • Meat Safety Act (Act 40 of 2000)

Regulation 73 under the Meat Safety Act, 2000 (Act no. 40 of 2000) prescribes the following regarding stunning pistols: (i) The abattoir owner must ensure that the captive bolt pistol is silenced, in a good state of repair and that it is used according to the methods approved by the national executive officer; and (ii) The correct grade of cartridge for the type of animal must be used to ensure maximum bolt speed and penetration of the skull.

The meat inspectors are responsible for the welfare of animals at abattoirs. When stunning devices and operators are not proficient or adequate, animals suffer whilst being slaughtered. For a simple outline of these Acts refer to

The Southern African Grain Laboratory

Other relevant legislation:

  • Agricultural Product Standards Act (Act 119 of 1990)
  • Animal Diseases Act (Act 35 of 1984)
  • Animal Identification Act (Act 6 of 2002)
  • Fertilisers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act (Act 36 of 1984)
  • Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972)
  • The Health Act
  • The Water Act
  • Local Authority Health Regulations
  • The Livestock Theft Act
  • Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act (Act 19 of 1982)

Directorate: Food Safety & Quality Assurance This directorate is responsible for setting national standards, including those for abattoirs.

Department of Health The food control section within the department is responsible for ensuring the safety of food in South Africa.

National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Relevant Statutory Measures, registration forms, abattoir levy forms etc can be obtained from the Red Meat Levy Admin company (details under “Associations involved” heading).

Guidelines for the processed meat industry as laid out in SANS 885 specify the handling, preparation, processing, packaging, refrigeration, freezing, chilling and storage of processed meat products.

South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)

Guidelines for the processed meat industry as laid out in SANS 885 specify the handling, preparation, processing, packaging, refrigeration, freezing, chilling and storage of processed meat products.

Further SABS Standards applicable to this industry: (i) (SABS 0331) Translocation of certain species of wild herbivore (ii) (SANS 10391:2004) The welfare of wild animals transported by sea (iii) (SANS 1884-1:2004) Holding Pens for temporary housing of animals – Part 1 (iv) (SANS 1884-2:2007) Holding Pens for temporary housing of animals – Part 2 (v) (SANS 1884-3:2008) Holding Pens for temporary housing of animals – Part 3 (vi) Food Safety Certification programmes as well as Product Certification: Eurepgap, BRC, HACCP, ISO 22000 (vii) Microbiological examination of foods

Further reference:

Associations involved

  • Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) The RMIF represents all the nationally representative role player organisations in the Red Meat industry.
  • Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA) The Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA) is a representative forum for abattoir owners in South Africa. The mission of the Association is to provide representation and services to the abattoir industry, which will ensure the highest standards of meat safety and quality to the benefit of the industry and the consumer. Training is provided to abattoir personnel as part of the challenge to improve and maintain hygiene and safety standards of meat. The RMAA website gives information on industry news, services offered by the RMAA, legislation relevant to the industry, price and health information and industry products.



Training and research

Learnerships and apprenticeships are a combination of on-the-job learning along with some theoretical training. The major part of the training can be offered on the farm. Find information on learnerships in the “Agricultural education & training” chapter, or at (under “Skills delivery” option). Find the links, also on the AgriSETA website, to the following qualifications: (i) National Certificate: Abattoir Slaughtering Processes (ii) National Certificate: Abattoir Supervision (iii) National Certificate: General Abattoir Processes (iv) Further Education and Training Certificate: Meat Classification (v) Further Education and Training Certificate: Meat Examination.

Training provided by the Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA) and its Abattoir Skills Training company includes: 1. Animal handling 2. Auditors Course 3. Basic introduction to the Abattoir Industry 4. Beef slaughter 5. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) 6. HACCP Awareness 7. HMS & HACCP 8. Hygiene Awareness 9. Introductory Abattoir Hygiene Course 10. Meat Inspection (Refresher Course) 11. Pork Slaughter 12. Small Stock Slaughter. Learnerships include FETC Meat Examination and NC General Abattoir Processes. Bursaries for the training of health officers are also available. The RMAA also assist members apply for Discretionary Grant funding from AgriSETA. For more information visit the RMAA website,

  • Agricultural Colleges like Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute do abattoir training. Find the list of these colleges in the “Agricultural education and training” page.
  • ARC-Animal Production Food Science and Technology Research is done in meat production, carcass evaluation, meat technology, quality, microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry – all relevant areas.
  • FoodBev SETA FOODBEV is the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector. This includes processed and preserved meat.
  • The National Federation of Meat Traders has developed practical and easy-to-follow instructional training videos and course material for meat cutting technicians in English, Afrikaans and Zulu, which are available on request. Contact them at 011 646 0290.
  • Find Red Meat Research & Development South Africa under the “associations” heading.
  • SA Butchery Training School
  • Read about the Meat Classification Course at, website of the SA Meat Industry Company (SAMIC).
  • Stellenbosch University Animal Science
  • University of Fort Hare Livestock and Pasture Science
  • University of the Free State Microbiology and Biochemistry

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Companies involved lists numerous abattoirs, meat suppliers and butcheries across the country.


Some abattoirs



Abattoirs plus

These companies are involved throughout the value chain, from livestock production to having their own abattoir facilities, to distribution of meat products.

See the list of companies on our livestock pages like “Beef cattle” and “Pork”.


Abattoir services and inputs

  • AMT Feasibility studies
  • Andisa Agri Tel: 082 807 5587 Value chain analysis, training and rural development
  • Read about the services at the ARC – Animal Production Institute under the previous heading.
  • Biozone Ozone sanitising and sterilising technologies
  • Bühler sustainable microbial reduction solution
  • Butcher and Meat Process Equipment (BMPE)
  • CJP Chemicals
  • Claasens Designs
  • Crown National Supplier of spices and equipment
  • DAS Food Systems
  • Deli Spices
  • DIVAC Abattoir Plant and Project Design Engineers Tel: 044 874 2720 Design, develop and supply specialised equipment, plan and design by-product, chilling and freezing facilities according to SA, EU and USDA Export standards.
  • EVN Africa Consulting Services Offices in Limpopo, Gauteng and KZN.
  • Freddy Hirsch Group Contact details of branches throughout Southern Africa available on the website. They are suppliers of spices, casings and equipment to meat industry.
  • Exim International Spices, casings, machinery, packaging
  • Innovative Process Solutions Design and implementation of full scale turnkey beef and multi-species abattoirs, medium to large scale compact cold stores, meat handling and processing facilities
  • International Meat Quality Assurance Services (IMQAS) IMQAS acts as an independent agent at an abattoir that ensures a safe and wholesome product is supplied to the consumer through compliance with regulations of the Meat Safety Act (Act 40 of 2000) and meat inspection at the abattoir. Find details of services (e.g. meat inspection) on their website. Traceability is vital, and as it is approached positively, it is the single most important tool in the meat and livestock industry for future market development. Contact IMQAS about services here.
  • JF Equipment
  • Jarvis Products Corporation RSA
  • JSE Livestock contracts
  • Kentmaster SA Carcass cutting tools and saws
  • Marel Food Systems
  • MBB Consulting Engineers
  • Visit for MEATMAN software developed by Freddy Hirsch for the meat industry.
  • MegaSolve Absaserve food solutions, designed for abattoirs, wholesalers and meat-processing industries.
  • Mitchell Group
  • Van Vliet de Wet & Partners Tel: 011 726 8195 Planning, design and construction of plant and equipment for abattoirs and for the meat industry
  • Waste Resolution Technologies The use of alkaline hydrolysis to deal with abattoir waste



Websites and publications

Visit the websites of the associations mentioned earlier on this page e.g. and

  • Consult the National Agricultural Marketing Council’s Trade Probe reports at Frequently you will find aspects of the meat sector covered.
  • Refer to the latest annual A Profile of the South African Beef Market Value Chain on DALRRD‘s Directorate Marketing’s web pages at and the other livestock value chain publications there.
  • Also on the DALRRD website under “Resource centre” are the following: “Import requirements for fresh meat”, “Procedures for the export of fresh meat”, “Buy with confidence … Buy approved meat”, “Our meat is safe”, “Safe meat” and “Slaughterings and consumer confidence”.
  • is “Your News and Information portal to the Abattoir, Butchery, Meat Processing and Deli Industries”
  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC)/Agbiz report (December 2019) on water efficiency in the agri-processing sector includes a look at animal slaughtering. Find it at
  • Publications like the following are available at the RMAA (see (i) Manual for the Abattoir Industry – a manual which describes all aspects of the abattoir industry and is an ideal source of reference for any person involved in the abattoir industry; (ii) Meat Inspectors Manual: Red Meat – this manual contains the minimum norm of required knowledge for all persons involved with hygiene control and meat inspection at abattoirs. It also serves as a valuable reference with regard to diseases and condemnations; (iii) FOA [United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation] Manual on Meat Inspection for Developing Countries is strongly recommended for training and reference purposes. Industry relevant articles, news and events will be available and updated on a regular basis in the “articles” section of the RMAA website.
  • Call 012 842 4017 or email iaeinfo [at] for the following publications, available from ARC-Agricultural Engineering: (i) Mishanteringshandleiding vir intensiewe diereproduksie-eenhede in SA (ii) Processing of Meat Products (Russians, tongue, hamburger patties, polony, frankfurters, bacon, ham, sausages).
  • Siebert, T. 2018. Red meat processing. Farmlink. Available at
  • A number of booklets are available from SAMIC: (i) Info for new meat traders (2nd one in Afrikaans) (ii) Duties and Functions of Abattoir managers regarding the welfare of animals. (iii) Duties and Functions of Abattoir managers regarding the welfare of pigs. (iv) A guideline for the use of prodders and stunning devices in abattoirs. The above booklets are also available from the NSPCA. Tel: 011 907 3590/1/2
  • Download the latest edition of Rooivleis/Red Meat at
  • Current legislation allows for cultural, traditional or religious slaughter. The role of the SPCA is to ensure the humane treatment of the animals and that the process is checked from the loading of the animals through to their arrival at the venue and the actual slaughter. Relevant websites are, and For a list of Halaal abattoirs visit and
  • Lymbery, P & Oakeshott, I. 2014. Farmaggedon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. London: Bloomsbury. Find the Dagbreek: Landbousake interview with Lymberry here along with RPO rejoinders.
  • for recipes, articles and information on the Cleaver Awards for butcheries.
  • Mzansi Meat Growing meat from cells instead of taking it from animals
  • Read about the Meat Free Monday campaign at See what you think of the rebuttal at


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