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Inspection system enhances safe meat supply, supports B.C. foods

NEWS RELEASE

Brisith Columbia Ministry of Agriculture

For Immediate Release

2013AGRI0012-000325

Feb. 22, 2013

Inspection system enhances safe meat supply, supports B.C. foods

VERNON – The B.C. government’s new meat inspection system reinforces the province’s reputation for safe and wholesome meat by continuing the current safeguards and inspection system in provincially licensed Class A and B abattoirs.
The new system follows extensive consultation with ranchers, abattoir operators, local governments and small-scale ranchers with licences to sell their meat at the farmgate. Abattoirs will continue to require the presence of a trained government meat inspector to inspect each animal (livestock) or flock (poultry) beforehand and each carcass after slaughter.

The new system will also: Require all Class A and B plants to develop and maintain comprehensive written food safety procedures for maintaining meat safety, facility hygiene and animal health and welfare. Include the development of an audit program of all Class A and B abattoirs. Train inspectors to provincial standards, including enhanced knowledge and skills in humane livestock handling and humane slaughter. Maintain third party government inspection and the use of a government stamp on inspected products. Maintain the graduated enforcement approach to support the integrity of the inspection system.

The new system will be fully implemented by Jan. 1, 2014, and will replace the B.C. government’s arrangement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to inspect provincially licensed Class A and B abattoirs, which has been in place since 1988. The current service agreement ends Dec. 31, 2013. The CFIA will continue to inspect the 11 federally registered abattoirs in B.C.

The Ministry of Agriculture is also in discussion with the retail sector in B.C. to expand the domestic market for meat processed in a provincially licensed Class A or B Abattoirs as well as working with the BC Association of Cattle Feeders to further develop and promote their “Certified B.C. Beef” brand.

The B.C. government is also beginning a two-year pilot project in the Regional District of North Okanagan for up to five Class E Licence operations. These pilot licences will be available to operators within a two hour travel distance of a provincially licensed abattoir.

Current Class E Licence holders are small farms located in areas where there is no provincially licensed abattoir to fill the consumer demand for locally produced meat. Class E Licence holders are permitted to sell restricted amounts of meat at their farm gate and temporary food markets such as a farmers market.

In addition to the new meat inspection system, the B.C. government also announced that a mobile abattoir will be stationed in 100 Mile House to help address the need for safe and wholesome local meat, providing the community can meet specific criteria. Upon the full implementation of the mobile abattoir in 100 Mile House, other B.C. communities demonstrating a similar need will be able to apply for a mobile abattoir to be based in their community, subject to meeting the same criteria.

Quotes:
B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick —
“Our new provincial meat inspection system strikes an important balance, and we took the time to do it right. The new system will protect public health, animal welfare, and expand economic opportunities for farmers, processors, and communities.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall —
“The safety of meat and food products is top-of-mind for all of us, and this updated provincial meat inspection system will help to maintain and enhance the safety of British Columbia’s local meat supply.”

BC Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon —
“Our goal as ranchers is to always deliver a safe product to our consumers. With input from industry, we believe the provincial government has done a very good job of developing a system that will satisfy the needs of consumers, producers and processors alike.”

BC Association of Abattoirs president Mike Noullett -
"The BC Association of Abattoirs applauds the B.C. government in working with industry to develop a fully funded provincial inspection system for Class A and B Abattoirs."

B.C. Food Processors Association CEO Nico Human —
“The BCFPA welcomes the minister’s announcement on the new meat inspection system. Food safety is paramount to the industry. Enforcement is key to make the system work. The processing industry is pleased to see the government’s initiative on this matter.”

Southern Plus Feedlot owner Bill Freding —
“We are proud to be the fourth generation of knowledge and experience in raising cattle in the Okanagan. With this new inspection system, we are sending a strong message that our B.C. beef will continue to be processed in a safe manner while looking for the opportunity to increase the market for B.C. meat.”