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Meat processing can be carried out even under basic conditions at a very small-scale level such as a village or rural setting. Such small-scale meat products manufacture can be recommended from the nutritional point of view, as it enables communities to fully utilize animal food materials derived from small-scale slaughtering and allows for extension of meat products with locally available suitable plant food (see chapter “Non-meat ingredients”, page 59). This type of meat processing also provides the option to manufacture products with increased shelf life, e.g. through drying (see page 221) or other preserving measures, e.g. salting, smoking, fermentation (see page 33) or heat treatment (see page 87) enabling communities to cater for periods meat might not be available.

Basic processing equipment can be manually operated for the smallest units with little throughput. The availability of single-phase electrical power allows for larger quantities to be processed using basic electrically powered equipment.

In least-developed and developing countries the high capital investment required to construct a purpose-built facility may not be feasible. In these cases the conversion of a suitable building of good standard can be acceptable as long as basic hygienic measures are introduced and followed.


A purpose built area is highly recommended for commercial small-scale meat processing (Fig. 313). As a guide, facilities should have the following minimum characteristics:

Units without electricity (Fig. 313)

Equipment and tools

Fig. 310: Manual equipment set with basic tools

Without electrical power the meat processor is limited to manually operated equipment (Fig. 310). A meat grinder is needed to cut meat and non-meat ingredients to the desired size. A manual sausage stuffer allows for easy filling of sausage mixes into the casings (see also Fig. 412). Other tools like knives (Fig. 386-391), hand bone saw, sharpening steel, buckets, one big and several small containers (plastic) and meat hooks (Fig. 392) are also needed. For grating of peeled roots, stainless steel grating plates are very helpful tools as they are unbreakable.

Cleaning and hygiene

Even when processing is done under such simple and basic conditions, due attention needs to be paid to hygiene. Cleanliness of facilities, installations and personnel is an essential pre-condition in all food processing. A sufficient amount of potable water, boiling facilities (charcoal cookers, gas stoves) and detergents and disinfectants must be available (see page 369). Raw materials brought to the processing area must be fresh, clean and disease-free. It is essential that the facilities, machinery and tools are properly cleaned before and immediately after processing. A high level of personal hygiene is required and therefore essential that staff involved in processing must be in good health and undergoes regular medical check ups. Staff members should never enter the food processing area in street clothes and shoes, but wear clean protective clothing, and also carefully attend to personal hygiene.

Product range

The range of products depends on the climatic conditions under which the processing is done, when manually operated equipment is used and refrigeration facilities are lacking.

Fig. 311: Some smoked and dried products

In tropical and subtropical countries with temperatures of above +25°C during the day and no significant decrease in temperature during the night the production is limited to products which are immediately consumed or products which are dried, salted and smoked in simple smoking units (Fig. 311). Fresh coarse sausages, burgers and meat-mixes (meats/vegetables) are typical products for immediate consumption (see page 112 and Annex 1, page 383 ff). Dried and/or fermented sausages of small diameter for rapid drying and dried meat sticks can also be produced (see Annex I, page 394 ff).

In moderate climates, smaller raw-fermented hams (page 176) and larger calibre dried-fermented sausages (see Annex 1, page 395, 398) can be produced during colder seasons. Some of the precooked-cooked products, such as coarse liver sausage, stuffed in natural casings of smaller calibre can be produced for immediate consumption (see Annex I, page 419).

Units with single phase electrical power (Fig. 313)

When single-phase electrical power is available, some basic electrical processing equipment can be used. This would allow for manufacture of a wider range of products in bigger quantities, storage of raw materials and final products under refrigeration and air-conditioning of the processing rooms. The general guideline for the design of the facility is not much influenced by the availability of electricity or not, hence Fig. 313 applies.

Product range

The range of products starts with fresh coarse sausages, burgers and meat-mince-mixes (see Annex I, page 383-393) and can include cooked products such as simple cooked hams or sausages (see page 400-414, 415-421) or indigenous meat products (see page 424-427). Most of these items need to be sold soon or must be airtight packed and frozen.

Distribution and sales

Distribution of fresh products kept in the fridge or a small chiller needs to be done within a few days of production. Frozen items can be kept for several weeks if packed airtight to avoid freezer-burn. Consumers must be advised that fresh sausages (see page 103) are highly perishable and need to be heat-treated and consumed immediately. Dried, salted and smoked items can be stored in a cool place for some time.

Additional equipment

Fig. 312: Bowl cutter (18 litres) single phase power

If electrical power is available, a bowl cutter (Fig. 312) can be installed. This significantly expands the possible product range. This piece of equipment is necessary to produce finely-chopped meat mixes such as frankfurters, fresh breakfast sausages, ham sausage and meat loafs. The incorporation of bigger amounts of extenders is now also possible. A smokehouse (Fig. 37, 41) with temperature regulation and blower for improved smoke circulation can be added to improve appearance and flavour of the smoked products. A small autoclave (pressure cooker) (Fig. 362, 364) and a semi-automated can-closing machine (Fig. 378) allow for production of canned meat products on a small scale. However these operations require experience and knowledge about the detailed principles and safe practices of heat preservation and canning technology (see page 277). Canned products can be stored without refrigeration for up to four years.

Fig. 313: Sausage production facility on village level (without power or limited single phase power)

Processing room with small storage area
Cleaning of intestines outside under shelter

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