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one of the food-processing industry’s largest branches, which handles all phases of the processing of livestock. In the USSR meat-packing enterprises prepare and slaughter cattle, poultry, and rabbits and produce meat, sausage products, canned meats, semifinished products, meat patties, pel’meni (ready-to-cook, meat-filled dumplings), and various foodstuffs. In addition, the Soviet meat industry produces dry animal fodders, valuable medicinal preparations (for example, insulin, heparin, and lipocaic), glues, gelatin, and feather and down products.

In prerevolutionary Russia cattle were slaughtered in small, domestic slaughterhouses, of which there were about 5, 000. Sausage products were made in small workshops, most of which were located behind sausage stores. The Soviet meat-packing industry developed a great deal under the prewar five-year plans (1929–40), when a number of large meat-packing combines were built (for example, the Moscow, Leningrad, Baku, Semipalatinsk, and Orsk combines).

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the meat industry was heavily damaged. About 200 plants (a third of the total number, accounting for half the prewar capacity) were completely or partially destroyed. Between 1946 and 1950 the industry’s enterprises were completely reconstructed. More than 300 meat-packing combines and shops were newly built or modernized.

Between 1913 and 1973 industrial production of meat in the USSR rose from 1.3 million tons to 8.3 million tons. In 1973 the total production of meat, including meat produced on farms, was 13.5 million tons. Meat products accounted for 15 percent of the total volume of food products sold in 1973. At the beginning of 1973 there were about 900 meat-packing enterprises in the USSR, including 663 meat-packing combines. About 450, 000 persons, including 360, 000 production workers, are employed in the preparation and industrial processing of cattle and in the manufacture of meat products. Often, many types of processing are done in the same plant or combine. In meat-packing combines cattle are processed, and sausage products, semifinished meat products, and canned meats are manufactured.

Meat-packing enterprises have high-volume systems, conveyor lines, automatic machines, and complex assembly units. All of the large meat-packing combines and many of the small ones are equipped with artificial refrigeration. By 1973 more than 530 continuous mechanized conveyor lines for cattle processing, 570 lines for poultry processing, 165 automatic lines for the production of nutritional fats, and 240 continuous mechanized production lines for processing by-products were in use at meat-packing enterprises. More than 20 machine-building plants produce equipment for the meat-packing industry.

Meat-packing enterprises vary in their capacity. One of the largest is the Moscow Meat-packing Combine, which produces up to 1, 000 tons of meat, 380 tons of sausage products, and 120 tons of various semifinished products and foodstuffs per day. About 6, 000 workers are employed there.

Production of sausage products, semifinished meat products, canned delicatessen meats, and other items for which there is a rising public demand is expected to grow more rapidly in the future. The construction of new, large meat-packing combines and meat-processing plants and the modernization of old ones by mechanizing and automating production processes are planned.

In 1973 the meat industry had 11 scientific research and construction design institutes with branches and departments that conduct research aimed at improving the technology, engineering, and economics of the industry.

The meat industry has close economic ties with kolkhozes and sovkhozes. The quantities, assortment, and times of delivery of raw materials are determined by mutual contract agreements. A system for accepting cattle on the farms and delivering them in plant vehicles has been instituted. This strengthens the connections between the meat-packing enterprises and the farms and creates the conditions for switching to a system of industry orders from the farm. Special motor vehicles and specially equipped railroad cars are used to haul cattle to the plants. Motor vehicles deliver 70 percent of the cattle to the plants. Cattle drives are becoming less common. In 1973 no more than 10 percent of the slaughtered cattle were driven to the stockyards.

Meat-packing is developing successfully in other socialist countries. In 1972 meat production totaled 600, 000 tons in Bulgaria, 1.2 million tons in Czechoslovakia, 1.4 million tons in the German Democratic Republic, 1.3 million tons in Hungary, 2.5 million tons in Poland, 1.1 million tons in Rumania, and 1.1 million tons in Yugoslavia.

In the capitalist countries the meat industry is most productive in the USA, where meat-packing and poultry plants predominate. In 1972 the total meat production of the USA was 24.3 million tons. About 95 percent of the cattle are processed industrially, and about 5 percent on farms. The meat industry is also important in Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and Uruguay. In most Western European countries cattle are slaughtered primarily in local slaughterhouses. Sausage products, canned meats, and other meat products are manufactured in specialized enterprises and in small workshops located behind stores. In 1972 meat production totaled 4.6 million tons in France, 4.5 million tons in the Federal Republic of Germany, and 3.2 million tons in Great Britain. In 1971, 2.3 million tons of meat were produced in Italy.


Veterinary-sanitary control. In Russia, supervision of meat quality dates from the 18th century. Police supervision of the slaughter of cattle was established in 1719 in St. Petersburg, in 1722 in Moscow, and later in other large cities. In 1839 the Physicians’ Code was issued, which regulated the construction of slaughterhouses and the sale of meat. The Ministry of Internal Affairs issued Rules for Grading Meat Products and Conditions for the Inspection of the Carcasses of Slaughtered Animals by Physicians. However, these measures did not provide for adequate regulation of meat quality. Proper regulation of veterinary-sanitary standards at slaughterhouses began only after the establishment of Soviet power.

In 1923 the management of veterinary-sanitary inspection at slaughtering facilities was delegated to the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture. In 1925, the Rules for the Veterinary-Sanitary Inspection of Slaughtered Animals and for the Examination and Grading of Meat Products, which had the force of law, were issued. Departments of Production and Veterinary Control (DPVC) conduct the veterinary-sanitary inspection of enterprises of the meat industry. The principal duties of the DPVC’s are veterinary examination of slaughtered animals, veterinary-sanitary certification of meat and meat products, and verification of the good quality of meat products and their compliance with the All-Union State Standard (GOST). Meat products may not be marketed without permission of the DPVC’s. The work of the DPVC’s is supervised by the state veterinary inspection and higher agencies of departmental veterinary service.


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Although the meat packing industry was not subject to the mass layoffs which characterized most industries, the packinghouse workers suffered in their own way.
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For now, OSHA campaigns for awareness through its 1993 meat packing industry guidelines, says Gary Orr, an ergonomist in the agency's office of ergonomic support.
She has written books and articles on early Midwestern manufacturing, including The Rise of the Midwestern Meat Packing Industry (1982).
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