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Meat Market Sanitation

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Although progressive meat retailers have taken it upon them-selves to maintain a most sanitary meat market, the great majority of municipalities have been more or less indifferent to the enforcement of sanitation in meat markets. This is evidenced by the existence of meat markets in various localities which are absolutely unfit to be called sanitary in any way, where filth and dirt has accumulated in rear rooms, where mice and rats have free play, and where employes, themselves are not clean in appearance.

While such conditions do not apply generally to the industry, there are, however, such markets in existence, which, through lack of proper inspection can flourish under such undesirable conditions.

Licenses Required

Practically all large cities require that meat retailers be licensed, and the rules and regulations which are published by the majority of cities are typical of the one reproduced here-with from the city of St. Louis, Mo.

It will be noted that the health commissioner even controls the working hours and that meat shops are allowed to open up to 9 o'clock on Sunday mornings.


Section 1671. Meat Shops controlled by the Health Commissioner.

All meat shops shall be under the control of the Health Commissioner, who shall have power, for good and sufficient cause, to declare any one of the same a nuisance, which finding when recorded in the proceedings of the health division and a copy thereof has been served upon the person licensed shall operate as a cancellation of license and a prohibition of all sales thereunder.

Section 1672. Meat Shop—hours on Sunday.—Any meat shop or market may be kept open on Sunday morning until nine o'clock A. M., for the sale of articles described in section 1675.

Section 1673. License—penalty for keeping shop without.—Any keeper of a meat shop who shall fail to obtain any license therefore, or shall fail to keep said license and all transfers thereof posted up in his shop, or shall open said shop or sell therein, any article on a Sunday after nine o'clock A. M., shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars for each and every offense.

Section 1674. Shops to be kept clean.—Every person who is duly licessed as herein required, shall keep his meat shop or stand properly cleaned and free from all foul smells and nuisances of every description, and on failure thereof shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction thereof, be fined not less than five nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.

Section 1675. License to conduct necessary.—No person, persons, or copartnership of persons shall open or keep a meat shop in the city without first having obtained a license therefor, and any person, persons or copartnership of per-sons doing business as a meat shop keeper or keepers shall pay an annual license of fifty dollars in advance; and said annual license shall be payable on the first day of July of each year ; and each license issued shall date from the first day of July of each year; which license shall authorize and empower such person, persons or copartnership of persons to sell in their shops all kinds of fresh and salt meat, fresh and salt fish, sausage and sausage meat whether made by them or not, and also all kinds of fowl and game in their proper seasons that is not prohibited being sold or offered for sale by any ordinance of this city or law of this state, all kinds of vegetables or fruits, in large or small quantities, for one year from the first day of July, preceding its issuance, and it is hereby provided that the owners of meat shops who have paid their license may be permitted to deliver meat in a wagon or otherwise, without taking out additional license therefor. If any person, persons, or co-partnership of persons shall exhibit for sale or offer for sale any of the above enumerated articles (vegetables and fruit excepted) in any market, stall, place, or shop in the city, whether sold or not, such person, persons, or copartner-ship of persons shall be considered to be meat shop keepers as herein defined, and shall be adjudged to be such in the full meaning of this section; and, provided, further, that nothing in this section shall be construed as to include grocers who sell ham, shoulders, dried beef, bacon, salt fish and smoked sausage.

Section 1676. License to contain what—register—transfer.—Every license shall contain the name of the person in whose favor it is issued, and shall designate the location of the meat shop. The licetise collector shall keep a register of all such licenses, and no license shall be transferred, nor the location of the meat shop changed, without the writ-ten consent of the license collector, and the approval of the comptroller indorsed on said license; provided, that no such transfer shall be made except for the bona fide, successor in business of the holder of such license desired to be transferred. The license shall be and remain during its continuance posted in some conspicuous place in the meat shop.

Section 1677. Principal of Meat Shop.—Every person, whether principal or agent, who transacts the business of a meat shop shall be deemed a principal as far as the penal-ties of this article and his liabilities thereto are concerned.

Section 1678. Article excludes sausage makers.—Nothing in this article shall be construed as applying to persons manufacturing sausage, who do not sell or dispose of any other kind of fresh meat; and provided, said persons shall have paid a manufacturer's license.

Section 1679. What perishable vegetables and fruit to be sold only in original packages at depots.--Receivers of potatoes, onions, cabbage, apples, pears, oranges, lemons, grapes, watermelons, bananas, and other perishable goods are prohibited from selling the same at railroad depots, upon rail-road tracks, and public landings in any but original pack-ages, and they are prohibited from selling the same to any other person or persons except to licensed dealers in said commodities.


Certain municipalities have enforced laws for periodical physcal examinations of employes and it has happened that meat cutters have been infected with contagious diseases. The sample of a medical certificate is shown below. Very few cities, however, require employes in meat markets to secure health certificates. The city of Philadelphia has recently enacted such a law and it also exists in certain cities of Missouri and Kansas.

Comparing the modern meat market to a barber shop, it will be found that in the modern barber shop, employes are required to wash their hands very frequently. Such conditions, however, do not exist as yet in the meat markets where it j really more necessary than in a barber shop. Wash basins for frequent washing of hands, even if they are located in the market, in view of the customers, will be an improvement which will eventually come into universal existence.

Modern meat retailers insist upon their employes not alone having clean clothing but upon keeping their hands and face clean. There are still a great many localities, however, where health authorities permit meats to be sold and consumed with-out being properly inspected. The farmers have the privilege of slaughtering animals which may have been diseased and if the farmer desires, he can dispose of them to the meat retailer in the neighboring towns. This is a subject of equal importance to the meat retailer as market sanitation, for such practices may be the cause of diseases that are absolutely beyond the control of the retailer as long as the health authorities will not inspect farm-slaughtered animals which are sold to the retailer.

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