Canada's Meat Inspection System

Meat processing is the largest component of Canada's food processing industry. It represents 10 percent of Canada's agri-food exports and it employs more than 67 000 Canadians.

The Food and Drugs Act is the main piece of federal legislation for food safety. It prohibits the sale of unsafe food products in Canada. All meat sold in Canada must comply with this legislation, regardless of where it is processed.

Slaughter and processing facilities are inspected to verify that industry is following processes and practices that result in meat that is safe to eat. Inspectors also check for the presence of pesticides, drug residues, and disease in animals.

In Canada, federal and provincial governments play a role in meat inspection. Animals must be slaughtered at either a provincially registered establishment or a federally registered establishment. Meat must also be processed and inspected in these types of establishments.

Meat that is imported into Canada must be from inspected plants that meet Canadian requirements.

Federally registered establishments

Meat that is transported between provinces or exported out of the country must be inspected in a federally registered establishment.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) performs inspection activities in all federally registered meat establishments. This is done to verify that meat products are manufactured in accordance with the Meat Inspection Act and the Meat Inspection Regulations.

Approximately 95 percent of animals slaughtered in Canada are slaughtered in federally registered establishments, and the majority of the meat processed in Canada is processed in federal establishments.

CFIA inspectors use the Compliance Verification System to verify that companies are complying with federal regulations and policies.

Provincially registered establishments

Canadian meat slaughter and processing facilities may be registered or licensed provincially rather than federally. Meat from a provincially registered establishment can be shipped only within that province.

Most of these facilities are small- or medium-sized businesses that operate locally.

Provincial/territorial governments are responsible for regulating the production and inspection of meat in these facilities.

Imported meat

Canada's Meat Inspection Act requires all imported meat to come only from plants in countries that meet Canada's standards for meat inspection.

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