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A New Graduated Licensing Approach for Meat Production and Processing in B.C.

BC Ministry of Healthy Living & Sport announces:

A New Graduated Licensing Approach for Meat Production and Processing in B.C.

British Columbia has a system for ensuring that meat produced in the province is safe for consumers, and for providing enough slaughter and meat-processing capacity for the entire province. This system is governed by the Meat Inspection Regulation (MIR). It currently provides licences to meat producers and processors that allow either slaughter only (Class B), or both slaughter and cut-and wrap-services (Class A).

The Meat Inspection Regulation ensures that animals are humanely handled and slaughtered; carcasses are processed in a clean environment; and meat is packaged and stored in ways that reduce contamination risks. Conditions in the meat-processing sector have been transformed and modernized significantly over the last six years as a result of the regulation, and the number of licensed slaughter plants in B.C. has increased from 12 in 2004 to 37 in 2010.

Recent amendments to the regulation introduce a graduated licensing system that includes two new licences (Class D and Class E) designed to support local livestock and meat production in B.C.'s more remote and rural communities. They are based on smaller numbers of animal units to be slaughtered, and allow direct sales from farmers to consumers. In addition, Class D licences allow retail sales within defined geographic boundaries. Regulatory changes also include phasing out the Class C licence, temporarily issued to enable meat processors to transition to full licensing, and enhanced ticketing provisions.

The amendments to the Meat Inspection Regulation are described below.

Class D and E Licences

The proposed Class E Direct Sales licence allows on-farm slaughter of a small number of animals annually (1-10 animal units) for direct sales to local consumers in rural communities that cannot support a fully licensed facility.

The proposed Class D Retail Sales licence allows on-farm slaughter of a larger number of animals (1-25 animal units) for direct sale to consumers, and allows retail sales to secondary food establishments (e.g., restaurants and meat shops) within the boundaries of the regional district where the meat was produced. Class D licences will be available in specifically designated regional districts.

As part of the application process, Class D and E operators will be required to submit a food safety plan for approval, and complete food safety training.

Phase Out of Class C Transitional Licences

Class C licences were a temporary measure to help slaughterhouse operators who were making the transition to a full Class A or B licence. While a transitional phase has been a necessary step for ensuring that all B.C. communities have adequate slaughter capacity, allowing the transitional phase to continue indefinitely would undermine the long-term food safety objectives of the Meat Inspection Regulation, as well as the economic viability of the fully licensed facilities. Current licence holders will be required to submit a plan detailing the steps remaining for obtaining full licensing. No new Class C licence applications will be accepted after June 1, 2010.

Ticketing Provisions

The ticketing amendments are an enforcement policy for the Meat Inspection Regulation, to be carried out by regional health authorities. They will give environmental health officers and meat inspectors the authority to better deal with illegal meat sales and lack of compliance with other critical food safety practice requirements. They will be applied as part of a progressive enforcement scheme that focuses on education and warnings first, and uses ticketing only in cases of serious, repeated or flagrant violation.

For more information, please contact the Health and Seniors Information Line:

In Victoria call: 250 952-1742
Toll-free across Canada: 1 800 465 4911
Email: health.health@gov.bc.ca

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