Inspection duties go to Sask. food centre

The Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre will take over inspection duties at 12 provincially licensed meat facilities Jan. 1 unless another supplier steps forward by June 18.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has provided the service in the past but announced in 2011 it would no longer inspect provincial plants in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia as of Jan. 1.

The Saskatchewan government announced last week the food centre received the contract but it is giving other potential providers a chance to make their case.

“We have done our background work and we really feel that it’s un-likely that there is another service provider other than the food centre that could do this for us,” said Betty Althouse, the province’s chief veterinary officer.

“But we are required for transparency reasons to let it be known and to let people know so that if there is somebody that we’re unaware of who thinks they could deliver the service that they have an opportunity to do so.”

The advance contract is posted on the SaskTenders website. It notes the contract with the food centre is in place from June 1, 2013 to March 31, 2017. If someone else does step forward, a competitive process could follow.

Althouse said the food centre operates its own federally inspected facility in Saskatoon and staff there have knowledge and expertise in food safety.

“They have done some work with the domestic slaughter program before, so they are familiar with that service,” she said.

Staff will be hired and trained over the summer, she added, and then new employees will work with the CFIA inspectors before Jan. 1 to learn the day-to-day aspects of the job. She couldn’t say exactly how many people would be hired.

Not all plants slaughter every day so current inspectors generally work at more than one plant and have other duties with the CFIA.

The CFIA will continue to inspect the federal facilities in Saskatchewan.

Inspection duties go to Sask. food centre Agriculture  Saskatchewan Government of Saskatchewan   via The Western Producer

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