Working Group Update: Letter to OMAF on Ontario’s Meat Regulations

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Author: Hillary Barter

Posted: July 2, 2013

Categories: Food in the News / The Meat Press

Over the past several months, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) has been seeking feedback on a series of changes to Ontario’s meat regulations that they have proposed. These changes would primarily affect butchers, but also restaurant operators and others in the food service industry, and the Meat Working Group at Sustain Ontario has been involved in these discussions in a few ways.

For one, we hosted a successful meeting in late May in which butchers, abattoir operators, farmers, restaurant owners and others came together to talk about what the proposals had to offer and what might be adjusted. We also drafted a letter as a group which was submitted as feedback to the ministry.The proposals themselves consist of three main changes that would change what meat-related activities would qualify particular businesses as official “meat plants” (requiring that they meet more stringent regulations set by OMAF, as opposed to being regulated by the ministry of public health). The proposals reflect, in part, a recognition that some of the changes made to the regulations in 2005, which dramatically increased the number of businesses considered meat plants, may have been too wide-reaching and may have unnecessarily burdened some small businesses that really should not be considered “meat plants”.

In our response, we applauded OMAF for its willingness to revisit Ontario’s meat regulations and to consult broadly with affected individuals. We also offered a series of modifications to the proposals that might be considered, and emphasized that there are still many other aspects of the provincial governments’ role in the meat industry that impacts the extent to which Ontario producers can raise livestock for local markets in sustainable ways. Suggestions touched on the need for butcher and slaughterman training programs, support for rural and remote meat plants, funding for value-chain planning, and closer monitoring of the impacts of regulatory changes and new programs in the provincial meat sector.

All in all it’s been an exciting month of conversation about local and sustainable meat!

We look forward to hearing about the outcomes of OMAF’s consultation processes.