New meat inspection program planned for B.C. by 2014

By Contributor
February 6th, 2012

The Province has completed a comprehensive review of options for provincially operated meat inspection services at Class A and B licensed abattoirs.

This ensures that B.C. continues to provide the most effective, safe meat inspection system possible when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) steps back from this role. The Report on the B.C. Abattoir System Inspection Review can be found online at: www.health.gov.bc.ca/protect/meat-regulation

Since the 1980’s, British Columbia has contracted with the CFIA to provide meat inspection services at provincially licensed plants. However, at the end of 2013 the CFIA will be transitioning out of this role in B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“I look forward to listening to those with an interest in food safety to hear how we can work together to build a world-class meat inspection system that protects and enhances B.C.’s reputation as a trusted source of high-quality, nutritious food both domestically and abroad,” said Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture.

As a result, B.C. will be responsible for the provincial meat inspection system. In all other areas of the country, provincial meat inspection is already delivered by the provinces.

“Our government is committed to provincewide licensing and meat inspection so that B.C. consumers can be assured the meat they buy is safe. That’s why we conducted this review – so that we can work to design a made-in-B.C. program that works for the public, government and industry,” added Minister of Health Michael de Jong.

To receive feedback on the report’s recommendations and meat inspection system options, the government of British Columbia is launching consultations with industry over the next few months. B.C. will then develop a new provincial meat inspection system that works for all British Columbians – the industry, consumers and government.

The new inspection system will take effect January 2014. To ensure a stable funding system while this transition takes place, the Province will extend its agreement to fund inspection services until the end of 2013. This will bridge the gap between the current funding agreement, which runs out March 31, 2012, and the beginning of the new system. Funding options after 2013 will be established once a new system is chosen.

The industry consultation will be led by the Ministry of Agriculture on behalf of government. It will solicit implementation advice on the recommendations and options presented in the report about what the new provincial inspection system will look like, and how it can best serve the needs of all parties, while ensuring that the safety of the meat supply is paramount.

Quick Facts:

·         The inspection of provincially licensed slaughter plants has always been the responsibility of the provinces. B.C. has contracted the CFIA to provide inspection services in provincially licensed facilities – Class A and B plants – but has always maintained responsibility for the regulation of these facilities and for the high standards of meat safety these facilities adhere to.

·         The provincial licensing system regulates slaughter plants and businesses that are generally much smaller than those that are federally regulated.

·         Federal licensing and inspection requirements have been designed for plants that are far bigger, with much larger production volumes than most of the provincial facilities. The cost for smaller operators to meet these large scale federal requirements would in most cases be prohibitive.

·         In 2010-11, the Province paid approximately $1.1 million to the CFIA for contracted meat inspection services.

·         All meat produced in Canada, in either federally or provincially inspected plants, must meet the safety requirements of the federal Food and Drugs Act.

·         Fifty-one provincial plants require inspection services. However, others operators are in the final planning stage.