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Meat

​Meat, including poultry and fish, is extremely vulnerable to contamination by disease causing micro-organisms or pathogens for a variety of reasons. 

Some of these reasons include:

  • Meat is high in protein and moisture. Both are needed for the multiplication of pathogens, such as Listeria. As the number of pathogens in a food increases, so does the likelihood that someone eating that food will experience food borne illness. It is critical that the slaughterhouses (abattoirs) and meat processing facilities are hygienic and operated in a sanitary manner to reduce the likelihood of contamination of the meat.

  • Animals that are slaughtered for meat carry pathogens that may also make humans sick. To reduce the likelihood that an animal for slaughter is carrying a disease that could affect humans, it is important that animals are inspected prior to and during the slaughter process. In BC, government inspectors carry out this function. It is a requirement that all meat sold in BC is inspected. The requirements for this inspection process are outlined in the BC Meat Inspection Regulations.

Aug 21, 2014: Health Canada introduced mandatory labelling requirements for Mechanically Tenderized Beef (MTB) to help consumers know when they are buying MTB products and how to cook them. News release


This requirement will apply to all industry sectors selling uncooked MTB to other industry members or consumers (grocery retailers, butcher shops, meat processors, and importers of MTB). This was first announced in the Feb 15, 2014 Canada Gazette.


Health Canada Industry guidance on MTB Labelling


Recent verotoxigenic E. coli illness outbreaks linked to mechanically tenderized raw beef products have shown that these products may represent a higher level of risk as compared to whole, intact beef cuts. As such, Health Canada is in the process of conducting a health risk assessment of raw beef that has been mechanically tenderized. While this review is being done, Health Canada is encouraging Canadians to cook all mechanically tenderized beef products to an internal temperature of at least 71°C (160°F). 


Reaching an internal temperature of 71°C would cook a steak or roast to approximately “medium” doneness, although a food thermometer should be used to be sure that the safe internal temperature is reached. It is difficult to determine if meat has been mechanically tenderized just by looking at it. As well, mechanically tenderized meat is not required to be labeled in Canada. If you are not sure that the meat you are considering buying is mechanically tenderized, ask your butcher or retailer. If they do not know, either don’t buy the meat, or be sure you cook the meat to an internal temperature of at least 71°C. 


More information from Health Canada on mechanically tenderized beef.

 

In BC, all slaughterhouses are either federally registered meat plants with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or are provincially licenced with the BC Ministry of Agriculture (MAGRI) (by Region). Provincially licenced Class A, or B meat plants are found throughout the province including the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and Okanagan, as well as the North (map). Slaughterhouses which are federally registered are permitted to export their product to outside the province. Slaughterhouses which are provincially licenced are only permitted to sell their product within the province. 


An important aspect of ensuring meat is safe to consume is how meat is transported after the slaughterhouse. This applies to anyone who handles, transports, distributes and stores meat products and carcasses destined for public sale and human consumption. This includes owners and operators of food premises, such as licensed slaughter facilities, butcher shops, food retailers and those who transport meat products to any of these facilities.


For information on how to apply for a D or E class licence, plase visit the BC Ministry of Health Services website for more information.

 

Guidelines for the Safe Transport of Carcasses, Poultry and Meat Products  

  • An important aspect of ensuring meat is safe to consume is how meat is transported after the slaughterhouse. This applies to anyone who handles, transports, distributes and stores meat products and carcasses destined for public sale and human consumption. This includes owners and operators of food premises, such as licensed slaughter facilities, butcher shops, food retailers and those who transport meat products to any of these facilities. A guideline has been developed that provides guidance for the safe transportation for carcasses, poultry and meat products.

Guideline for Cutting and Wrapping Uninspected Meat 

  • This document provides guidance to approved food premises (e.g., butcher shops) that provide cut-and-wrap services for uninspected meat and/or game. Following this guideline should result in compliance with the general sanitation provisions of the Food Premises Regulation. The final outcome of this guideline is to ensure that uninspected meat in BC is not contaminated.

Guideline for Donation of Culled Game Meat 

  • These standards apply to situations in which wild ungulates are culled for management purposes and the meat is subsequently made available through a donation system. The high protein and low fat meat obtained from game animals, can greatly increase the dietary diversity and nutrition of economically disadvantaged recipients. As such, the benefits of donating wild game meat in these circumstances can outweigh any disadvantages or costs such a program may entail. All meat derived from these culls must be processed by approved facilities and must be donated to individuals or families for their personal consumption only, or to food bank intermediaries.
 

The information on these pages represent the work we do on behalf of the public, industry and government. Some of this information was written for the general public and some was written in technical language for public health. 

Contact us

Food Protection Services  604.707.2440
NCC for Environmental Health  604.829.2551
Poison Control Centre  604.682.5050 (local) or 1.800.567.8911 (toll free)

SOURCE: Meat ( )
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