CFIA to cease meat inspections
by DAVID SCHMIDT
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
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
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.