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Pilot program to explore weekend meat inspection

A pilot program will look at the viability of establishing weekend meat slaughter inspection in the North Okanagan.

Okanagan Poultry Producers is a mobile processing facility that works with up to 60 smaller-scale farmers from all across the North and Central Okanagan, and the Columbia Shuswap and Grand Forks region to slaughter and process their poultry.

Okanagan Poultry Producers is currently in the process of transitioning from a temporary Class C licence to a permanent Class B, which requires that an inspector is on hand for the slaughter of all poultry flocks.

The pilot project will run from April to October 2011. Currently, all meat inspection services for Class A and B meat plants are overseen by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides direct inspection services to these plants under the terms of an MOU between the Province and the federal government. The CFIA is only able to provide limited inspections on weekends under the current model.

This pilot project will allow government to gain insights and knowledge about meat inspection alternatives.

The Ministry of Health Services, in collaboration with stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture, the BCCDC and the BC Food Processors Association, is conducting an in depth review of abattoir inspection services in B.C. that will involve consulting with processors and producers and other industry representatives starting in January 2011.

The review will look at alternatives and modifications to the existing system, including weekend inspection. It will conclude in mid-2011, with the findings incorporated over the course of 2011-12.