A proposed change to Canada's meat inspection rules could permitmeat from already-dead animals to be processed for humanconsumption, although federal inspectors say that would only happenon rare occasions. The proposed changes to the inspection regulations will leaveCanadians wondering if the meat they buy is actually safe, federalNDP says. But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency disagrees, saying thechanges designed to streamline the system have only been proposedat this point and if passed would have no effect on food safety. The NDP released a statement Tuesday saying the Conservativegovernment will allow private inspectors, who may not be qualified,to inspect meat and also change what meat is acceptable meaningalready-dead and crippled animal meat would be okay for processingfor the tables of Canadians. The party is also concerned how budget cuts to CFIA mixed with theproposed regulation changes would affect the inspection of meat forhuman consumption. |
First the Conservatives will let private inspectors monitor meat,and now they re essentially allowing road-kill-ready meat into thefood supply, said Malcolm Allen, the NDP agriculture critic. Even scarier is the fact that we won t know how long animalshave been dead before processing or even that the meat will beinspected at all. Tim O Connor, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food InspectionAgency, said that is untrue. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says the amendments would notreduce food safety in any way. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) Dead stock is not allowed for human consumption, he said.
He said right now the federal rules are black and white: under nocircumstance can an animal designated for human consumption beslaughtered outside of a registered facility. With the proposed rule changes, O Connor said there could be apossibility for rare cases where an animal could be slaughtered onfarm; for example, if a steer broke its leg or was too aggressiveto be safely transferred. It would only be under very limited circumstances, saidO Connor. Since losing the steer would be a financial hit to the rancher,they could seek approval from CFIA for euthanizing the animal attheir location. They would need an inspection by a veteran to verify the animal issafe for human consumption before it is euthanized.
The vet wouldalso certify the date and method. Then the rancher would have to document their techniques, whichwould have to fall in line with humane treatment and the Health ofAnimals Act requirements, before transferring the meat to aprocessing plant within a required time frame where it would beinspected again. Details still to be worked out O'Connor said the exact protocol still has to be worked out, as theamendment proposal is still in its early stages and still has to gothrough a consultation process. He said the role of private inspectors or veterinarians is alsostill undecided, and would still have to fulfill current foodinspection requirements. Meat pegged for interprovincial and international trade has to becompleted at a federally-registered processing plant, which wouldhave to follow food inspection requirements already in place.
There are some processing plants and slaughterhouses that are notfederally-registered, but O'Connor said regulations for thosefacilities fall under the control of each province. The NDP know full well, despite their outrageous rhetoric, thatthis proposal will not reduce food safety in any way, saidAgriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a statement. Only live animals that are inspected and safe for humanconsumption but cannot be transported safely and humanely would beeligible for on-farm slaughter and then transported to a federalprocessing facility. John Masswohl, director of government and international relationsat Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said the proposed rule changeis a win-win situation for the better treatment of the animals. He said it's better to euthanize an injured animal on a farm andthen transport it.
"Right now, the farmer could only choose to transport it oreuthanize and dispose of it," Masswohl said. He also said diseased or dead animals would not be considered. "I don't know where [the NDP] are coming from, or what regulationsthey read," said Masswohl.
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