Within the United States, and in some other countries, a meat packing plant refers to a facility that packages animal meat for human consumption. In New Zealand, the same type of facility is called a freezing works. Contrary to popular belief, animals are not slaughtered at a meat packing plant. This facility solely exists to package and export meat.
Sheep, cattle, pigs, and other types of livestock are killed at an abattoir -- a warehouse-type building that can also be called a slaughterhouse. The entire meat packing industry has been in existence since the time of the first railroad. The invention of the railroad allowed farmers to send their livestock to any slaughterhouse within a few days.
Likewise, a meat packing plant was able to receive and distribute meat across a country with the help of the refrigerated railroad car. Within the United States, conditions inside of the average meat packing plant during the 1900s were extremely dangerous, which prompted author Upton Sinclair to write the classic book The Jungle. Many years later, during the 1930s and 1940s, workers were able to unite and form the United Packinghouse Workers of America. Even though meat packing plant conditions have improved within the United States, modern technology has made this occupation just as dangerous as it ever was. Human rights activists frequently protest the work atmosphere within packing plants stating that production has taken precedence over safety.
A kosher meat, meat consumed by those of the Jewish faith, packing plant is a bit different from a regular packing plant. According to Jewish law, animals must be killed by one single cut to the throat area. This method allows an animal's blood to drain slowly. Trained individuals perform the cutting of kosher animals, though any cuts that are too shallow, or are marred in any way, constitute meat that is non-kosher. In this case, the meat is then sold to people who are not of the Jewish faith.
Similarly, halal meat, meat consumed by those of the Islamic faith, is killed in a different type of packing plant. Halal meat must also be killed by cutting an animal's jugular veins. There are many commonalities between kosher meat and halal meat, though whether the two types of meat can be interchanged is debatable. While neither Muslim or Jewish people can consume pork according to the rules of their religion, amongst other types of meat, pork meat is the most popular kind of meat worldwide, though beef comes in a close second.