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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd April 2010
M. of Healthy Living & Sport
Amendments to the Province's Meat Inspection Regulation (MIR) will create two new categories of licences to better serve British Columbia's remote and rural communities.

"These new licences will support local producers and processors around the province and will allow us to continue protecting the health and food safety of all British Columbians," said Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Ida Chong. "These licences will initially be made available to livestock producers in Bella Coola, the Powell River Regional District and Haida Gwaii - the communities that participated in the consultation and actually helped develop this concept."

The two new licence categories will permit livestock producers in rural and remote areas that are without reasonable access to licensed slaughter capacity to slaughter their animals and sell the meat directly to local consumers. One of the licences, available in nine designated areas, will also permit geographically restricted retail sales.

In addition, the Class C transitional licence originally introduced to enable slaughter operators to become fully licensed will be phased out. Operators will develop customized plans to transition these facilities to other licences.

The amendments also introduce ticketing by health authorities to ensure compliance. "Through these amendments, the Province is recognizing the importance of existing provincially licensed facilities and the investment they have made to comply with the regulation," said Chong.

"We've seen a number of food-borne disease outbreaks in the last couple of years alone - such as listeria - and we're all the more aware of the importance of a system that will protect consumers," said Robin Smith, chairman of the board of the B.C. Food Processors' Association. "A well- regulated system means we are better able to isolate problems should they occur, and act swiftly to protect the health of British Columbians."

The MIR came into force Sept. 1, 2004 for all new operators and Sept. 1, 2006 for all existing slaughter operators following the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis and other disease outbreaks.

The number of provincially licensed slaughter facilities has increased from 14 in 2004 to 37 in 2010. Since 2006, government has provided more than $11.9 million to support industry's transition to the new requirements and to ensure this sector remains viable.

For more information on the MIR and the licensing process, visit: www.hls.gov.bc.ca/protect/meat-regulation/.