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Consumers, producers to benefit from new oversight for B.C. meat inspection

B.C. consumers, ranchers and producers will benefit from a new consolidated process for provincial meat inspection that continues to ensure food safety and animal welfare are top priorities.

Effective Dec. 1, 2020, all slaughter activity licensed under the Meat Inspection Regulation for Class, A, B, D and E meat slaughter licences will now be regulated under the Ministry of Agriculture. Previously, regional health authorities had responsibility for Class D and E licences.

“British Columbians want high-quality and trusted meat products raised by B.C. ranchers and farmers, and this change will help us meet that demand,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “We look forward to working collaboratively with all licence holders to ensure food safety and animal welfare requirements are being met, while continuing to support more opportunities for the production and sales of locally raised meat products in B.C.”

This change was made in response to recent consultation, including the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food’s report on local meat production and inspection.

Moving authority to the Ministry of Agriculture will provide benefits to consumers, existing licence holders and producers, including:

  • creating new economic opportunities for communities throughout the province;
  • strengthening the resiliency of B.C.’s food system;
  • streamlining licensing to reduce the administrative burdens for animal slaughtering businesses;
  • improving overall consistency in Class D and E administration throughout the province; and
  • increasing frequency of inspections to ensure food safety and animal welfare is maintained.

“This change will enable effective oversight and create more opportunities for small on-farm abattoirs,” said Tristan Banwell, rancher, Class D licence holder and vice president of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association. “We will also have a clear path to growth for those who want to expand their facilities, which is crucial as we work to rebuild diverse local economies in rural areas.”

Class D and E licences support local livestock and meat production in B.C. communities where existing slaughter capacity is limited or non-existent. The B.C. government is consulting with ranchers, abattoir operators, local governments and other stakeholders to review and improve slaughter capacity. An intentions paper will be released this fall.

Learn More:

For information on meat inspection in B.C., including licence types, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/food-safety/meat-inspection-licensing

The Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food’s public consultation on local meat production:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019AGRI0045-001135

A backgrounder follows.

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