Food Safety :: Province helps meat processors shift to new rules

The provincial government is enhancing food safety in British Columbia with a new meat inspection regulation that takes effect on Sept. 30, 2007, and will also provide support to processors to complete facility upgrades with a temporary transitional licence.

The new Meat Inspection Regulation under the BC Food Safety Act (2004) will strengthen the province’s meat surveillance and inspection system. The act supports the rapid identification, tracking and elimination at source of food-borne risks to public health and promotes public confidence in the province’s $22-billion a year agricultural-food industry.

The ministries of Health, Agriculture and Lands, and Environment continue to work closely with small producers and processors in rural and remote areas to support the viability of local food production. The regulatory system will remain flexible to accommodate small plant operations while ensuring that B.C.’s food safety standards are now consistent across the province and are in line with other jurisdictions in Canada.

As part of a commitment to help small producers make the transition, the Province will allow temporary transitional licenses that will expire after six months to processors whose facility upgrades to the new standards are already in progress. This is in addition to a one-year extension of the original 2006 deadline and a $5-million Meat Transition Assistance Program.

Where the BC Centre for Disease Control has already approved a construction plan under Section 8 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, the Province is prepared to offer operators ‘Class C’ transitional licenses. Under Class C, the processor’s meat would be labelled as uninspected and restricted to direct farm gate sales only – not for resale to retailers or restaurants.

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