Monday, October 24, 2011

CFIA to cease meat inspections: Country Life in BC article

CFIA to cease meat inspections

ABBOTSFORD – The B.C. Food Processors Association (BVFPA) is downplaying the significance of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) recent announcement that it will no longer perform meat inspections for provincially licenced facilities in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba within three years.
In its announcement, the CFIA notes “provincial meat inspection is not part of the CFIA’s responsibilities,” saying it intends to focus on “delivering its core mandate” which includes inspections at federally-licenced slaughter plants.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents federal food safety inspectors, some of whom could lose their jobs as a result of the change, immediately decried the move, claiming it will “expose unwitting B.C. consumers to heightened risk of eating contaminated meat products.”
The BCFPA rejects that, saying the association is working with abattoirs and the B.C. Ministry of Health Centre for Disease Control to come up with a practical system which assures “people will not be put at risk.”
“The province has known about this for a long time,” notes BCFPA past-president Robin Smith, pointing out provincial inspection systems have been operating very successfully for many years in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
Meat inspection has been a huge issue ever since the new B.C. Meat Inspection Regulation was introduced in 2004. That regulation now requires all meat sold in the province to be inspected, which was previously not the case in all regions. As a result, there are currently six categories of abattoirs in B.C.
At the top of the heap are the 12 federally-licenced facilities. The only facilities allowed to ship meat outside of the province, they must meet stringent federal inspection and documentation standards. They are now and will continue to be inspected by the CFIA.
The remaining five categories are all “provincially-licenced” facilities. Class C is a transition licence which is being phased out. Class D and E licences are intended for remote locations and severely restrict how much meat can be slaughtered and where and to whom it may be sold. They are currently inspected by local health inspectors and this is not expected to change.
The only facilities which will be impacted are B.C.’s 49 Class A and B-licenced fixed and mobile abattoirs.
“I don’t anticipate any issues,” Smith says, noting inspectors will be fully trained and inspections will follow HACCP principles.

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