Under the current Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990(MIR), establishments involved in the slaughter, processing, packaging, labelling, refrigeration, freezing and storage of meat products for inter-provincial or international trade are required to be federally registered, while those who trade meat within the same province are not.
However, there are only 730 federally registered establishments in Canada, with a further 4,000 meat manufacturing facilities not currently registered.
The CFIA said the new proposals would have no impact on food safety, but would help cut red tape and make it easier for small and medium-sized meat processors to achieve federal registration, thereby expanding trade opportunities. Proposals include: a change to packaging and labelling material restrictions; a move to less prescriptive requirements related to where edible and inedible products are handled; changes to export requirements, enabling inspectors to sign export certificates for meat products rather than veterinarians; and greater flexibility of the activities that can be carried out within a registered establishments.
“Pursuing the proposed amendments, as described previously, would provide greater flexibility to federally registered establishments in how they may meet regulatory requirements while removing some redundant and overly prescriptive non-food safety requirements currently constituting irritants to the sector,” said the CFIA statement.
“The proposed amendments would also assist Canada in enhancing its alignment with major trading partners such as the US and/or better position Canada for the future in terms of meat product imports and exports.”
Canada’s ministers of agriculture have been seeking ways to eliminate potential barriers to inter-provincial trade for several years and, in July last year, made a commitment to advancing efforts to simplify requirements for meat processing and slaughtering establishments to trade inter-provincially. Authorities have been working with group of pilot facilities to test the new inspection requirements, conduct evaluations and collect information. The CFIA has also consulted on the proposed amendments with Health Canada.