U of I Meat and Egg Sales Room sells fresh meat
Located south of the University of Illinois campus is the Meat and Egg Sales Room, where most of the workers are students, and their jobs there are a part of their education.
Patrons that visit the Meat and Egg Sales Room will find a large selection of meats available to choose from, including different types of cooked and fresh sausages like cured and smoked bratwurst, Italian, and Polish; cuts like steak, pork chops, and ground beef and pork; and beef and pork patties.
Ben Peterson, current assistant manager of the Meat and Egg Sales Room, says the objective is to make a positive impact.
“Our main goal here at the meat lab is teaching, research, and extension,” he said. “Our main goal here is not to make money, it’s to help the public out, to get the students some experience in the meat industry.”
U of I students serve freshly-butchered meats and fresh eggs from nearby farms. Patrons will know where their meat and eggs come from, and they’re helping students gain hands-on experience in their careers.
“On Tuesdays we harvest animals here. All of our animals come from the south farms, the cattle, pigs and sheep,” Peterson said. “During the fall we teach a class called Animal Science 219. It is a class that students can enroll in to actually go through the whole harvest process themselves.”
Peterson says through this class students learn how to transform the meat of an animal into a commercial product.
Throughout the semester they spend time breaking down carcasses and turning them into primal cuts and also saleable cuts like steaks [and] pork chops,” he said. “Also, through some classes, they’ll learn how to make sausage, cure bellies, to make bacon, things like that.”
The sales room must be regulated by the relevant authorities to be able to sell meat so fresh, having been cut within days of the time they are to be sold.
“We’re a federally-inspected plant which means that we have a [Department of Agriculture] inspector here every day,” Peterson said. “They check to make sure we do everything properly…on kill days, they’ll come in before we do anything to make sure none of [the animals] are sick.”
The sales room began only selling one day a week, to now having three busy days open on a regular basis. Records provided by Peterson show sales increasing steadily, indicating a great number of customers patronizing the sales room.
To learn more about the Meat and Egg Sales Room, visit ansc.illinois.edu. It is open Monday, Thursday, and Friday: Monday and Thursday 1–5:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.–1 p.m.