Who is the inspector?
Most year-round processors are licensed and inspected by the state, but some-especially those that operate seasonally-may not be. Insist on state licensing, and keep in mind that federal inspections are often even stricter. Adherence to USDA guidelines is a mark of a shop that takes quality very seriously. "The federal inspectors come every day," says Brian Jorgenson, a meatcutter at Look's Meat Market in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. "They check everything, floor to ceiling."