Behind the Legend - Issue #22

Issue #:
22
Editor(s):
OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date:
Summer 2017

Behind the Legend

Quarterly newsletter for Ontario's provincially licensed meat plant operators

Issue Number 22 - Summer 2017

The meat inspection legend is the stamp that goes on meat products when they have met all regulatory requirements and are deemed safe for Ontario consumers.

In this Issue

Reduce the risk of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli

From Our Program Desk: Frequently Asked Questions About the Food Product Exemption

From Our Veterinarian Desk: Transport Guidelines for Small Flock Poultry Owners

From Our Veterinarian Desk: Information For Operators of Provincially Licensed Abattoirs On Emergency Slaughter Provisions

From Our Veterinarian Desk: The Importance of Inspecting Animals Prior to Slaughter

From Our Training Desk: New Food Safetyand Traceability Online Courses

From Our Training Desk: Upcoming Training Sessions

Tracing Canada's Livestock: Livestock Premises Identification Helps Canada Respond to Emergencies

From The Compliance Desk: Recent Court Convictions


Reduce the risk of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli

The primary food safety goal during slaughter is to minimize and remove bacterial contamination. Contamination of meat during slaughter and processing is a major risk for subsequent food-borne illnesses in humans. This is because bacteria transferred from the animals' fecal material, gastrointestinal tract, hide, and also from plant equipment and workers hands to the carcass is very difficult to prevent.

It's normal to find Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in human and animal intestines. Most E. coli are harmless and are an important part of a healthy intestinal function. However, some E. coli are pathogenic, meaning they can cause illness when they find their way into human intestines.

Some pathogenic E. coli cause illness by making a toxin called Shiga toxin. The bacteria that make these toxins are called "Shiga toxin producing E. coli", or STEC for short. STEC cause human illness which can range from mild diarrhea to very severe and life threatening conditions, including death.

The STEC strain most frequently associated with human illness in North America is serotype O157:H7. In addition to E. coli O157:H7, six other E. coli serotypes (O26, O45, O111, O103, O121, and O145) are also commonly associated with severe illnesses in humans. A number of species of animals slaughtered for meat may carry STEC. Although cattle are the primary group of animals to be at risk, sheep, goats and pigs can also carry these organisms in their intestines which can then be transferred to meat during slaughter and processing.

The best prevention of contamination is strict and vigilant sanitation practices, focussing on the many steps of hygienic slaughter. There is no substitute for keeping bacteria off the carcass in the first place.

An important step in the dressing procedure is the application of proven antimicrobial interventions to reduce pathogens on carcass surfaces and effectively remove or inactivate bacterial contamination to improve meat safety. These low-cost antimicrobials include: lactic, acetic or other organic acid, peroxyacetic acid, hot water or other approved interventions.

The table below highlights how you can protect your business and customers from STEC:

Plant Operations Processing Interventions
  • Ensure cattle and holding pens do not contribute to the spread of contamination (e.g., clean pens, supply fresh bedding).
  • Ensure plant design prevents cross contamination (e.g. airflow, personnel flow, facilities, equipment, etc.).
  • Ensure employees are trained to implement the facility's sanitation program, clean all slaughter areas, and equipment.
  • Ensure employees wear clean clothing, and do not enter the abattoir with their personal clothing.
  • Ensure easy access to sanitizing equipment for employees to frequently santize knives, other tools, and surfaces between carcass handling.

  • Ensure holding pens, ramps, unloading chutes, curbs, and runways are not overcrowded, and are made of materials that can be kept clean and are well maintained.
  • Ensure when hides are removed they do not contaminate carcasses.
  • Ensure the viscera remain intact, and equipment used is regularly sanitized during operations.
  • Ensure final trim removes any remaining visual contaminants on the carcass.
  • Ensure the final wash removes remaining incidental contaminants (e.g. blood, bone dust, etc).
  • Test carcasses to be sure you are not releasing contaminated products to the marketplace.
  • Even with good sanitation practices and controls, bacteria will still contaminate the carcass. These lowcost, simple "interventions" can effectively remove or inactivate bacteria:
  • Lactic, acetic or other organic acid rinses (applied at 2.5%, at ambient to higher temperatures; mixtures must not exceed 55°C).
  • Peroxyacetic acid (PAA): Formed from acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Application rate of PAA is 15 – 200ppm.
  • Hot water rinse applied at 65°C to 82°C (150°F to 180°F); the higher the temperature the greater the effect.
  • Dry aging reduces generic E. coli, E. coli O157:H7, and other bacteria (more effective if less than 90% relative humidity is used and the carcass is chilled/aged for 6 days or more).

Reducing the major risk factors for food–borne illnesses that might affect your customers means abattoirs must control contamination of carcasses during slaughter. Applying a simple, low cost, effective intervention will make a difference to your business and your customers. Lastly, testing carcasses for these organisms can give you assurance that you are not releasing contaminated products to the marketplace.


From Our Program Desk: Frequently Asked Questions About theFood Product Exemption

In 2014, the Meat Regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 was amended to clarify OMAFRA's role in the inspection system – the inspection of slaughter plants and higher risk meat processing plants. These are businesses that distribute a significant portion of their meat products through wholesale markets or perform higher risk meat processing activities. The Public Health Unit's role continues to focus on food premises, those businesses that serve the public.

In some instances, a licence to operate a provincial meat plant is not required. One instance is called the "Food Product Exemption".

What is the Food Product Exemption?

A provincial licence is not required if a business ONLY prepares:

  • Sandwiches that contain meat
  • Pizzas that contain meat
  • Edible Oil/Fat
  • Bouillon
  • Any other meat products that contain 25% meat or less

What is edible oil?

Edible oil or fat, is the oil or fat derived from a food animal and that is produced for human consumption.

What is bouillon?

Bouillon is a broth which may or may not be dehydrated and that is derived from a food animal.

How is it determined that meat products contain less than 25% meat?

The percentage of meat in a product is determined by raw weight of the product's total ingredients (including water). The operator should refer to their recipe in determining whether a product meets the 25% exemption. If asked, the operator will be responsible for demonstrating the product is less than 25% meat.

What should I do if I think my business is exempt from licensing?

Contact your Area Manager. The Meat Inspection Program will work with Public Health Units as necessary to evaluate your plant and activities to determine if you may be exempt from licensing. The process of assessing plants to determine if they are exempt may take time and discretion must be used to ensure careful consideration and informed decision making.

Who inspects businesses that are exempt?

A business exempt from licensing under the Meat Regulation will be subject to public health inspection under the Food Premises Regulation. The public health unit's role continues to focus on food premises, those businesses that serve the public.

If a plant no longer requires a licence due to the exemptions, will anyone monitor their activities?

A plant that is no longer licensed under the Meat Regulaotin due to the exemptions will be subject to the Food Premises Regulation under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and therefore inspected by the municipal public health unit. Compliance staff from OMAFRA and the municipal public health unit will monitor the business activities for compliance with applicable regulations.

Where can I learn more?

The exemptions can be found in section 2.1 of the Meat Regulaotin. OMAFRA's ‘Do you Operate a Provincial Meat Plant' chart provides you with more information on the exemptions.


From Our Veterinarian Desk: Transport Guidelines for Small Flock Poultry Owners

OMAFRA has published new resources for transporting small poultry flocks that may be useful for your abattoir and clients. Small poultry flocks are subject to the same transport rules as commercial flocks, but many small flock owners don't have the same expertise available to them for loading and transporting their birds. These documents provide advice and guidance to small flock producers and can be found at: Transport Guidelines for Small Flock Poultry Owners.


From Our Veterinarian Desk: Information For Operators of Provincially Licensed Abattoirs On Emergency Slaughter Provisions

Emergency Slaughter provisions in the Meat Regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 (FSQA) allow for the slaughter and bleeding of a food animal on a producer's premises and the transport of the carcass to a licensed abattoir for dressing and post mortem inspection. If approved, the carcass can be processed into an inspected meat product that can be sold, distributed, shared or donated.

A Regional Veterinarian, appointed by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), can authorize an Emergency Slaughter (ES) on farm when an otherwise healthy food animal:

  • is injured and cannot be transported without undue suffering or distress;
  • has escaped confinement; or
  • cannot be transported without endangering itself, another animal or a person.

As an operator of a provincially licensed abattoir, you may decide to make the business decision to accept and process ES carcasses. If you are interested in accepting ES carcasses, you need to consider the following:

  • You must have OMAFRA Regional Veterinarian approval for each ES.
  • You can accept ES carcasses year round for any species of food animal.
  • You must agree to dress the carcass.
  • You are responsible for all fees relating to ES authorizations and inspections. The fees associated with ES are set out in O. Reg. 223/05 under the FSQA. As an operator, you can charge these fees back to the producer.
  • If you choose to accept ES bovine carcasses, you must:
    • Have a valid CFIA permit to receive under 30 months of age and/or over 30 months of age ES cattle.
    • Hold carcasses and all of their parts (including hide) from injured ES cattle over 30 months of age for Bovine
      Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) testing.

More information can be found on OMAFRA's website by contacting Dr. Alex Reid at or by paging her at 1-866-395-8957.


From Our Veterinarian Desk: The Importance of Inspecting Animals Prior to Slaughter

Ante mortem inspection occurs before an animal is slaughtered, and serves to differentiate normal from abnormal food animals. This inspection is critical for controlling or reducing hazards to animal health and animal handlers and for processing safe meat and meat products.

Ante mortem inspection is a shared responsibility between industry and government. It is the responsibility of the operator to present each animal that is to be slaughtered to an inspector appointed by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) for an ante mortem inspection.

Ante mortem inspections are performed to:

  1. Identify animals showing evidence of a disease or condition that could make the carcass, parts of the carcass, or its meat products unfit for human consumption.
  2. Detect disease conditions in the live animal that may show no visible changes in the carcass (e.g., rabies).
  3. Identify heavily contaminated (e.g., manure on hide, visibly abscessed) animals to minimize problems associated with contamination in the slaughtering and dressing processes (e.g., reduced line speed, trimming, and carcass condemna..ons).
  4. Detect the presence of a foreign animal disease (FAD) or a reportable disease (RD). The detection of FAD and/or RD is important as the disease in question could be hazardous to humans (e.g., BSE) or could be a hazard to the livestock industry and cause losses to the whole sector (e.g., Avian Influenza, Foot and Mouth Disease).
  5. Detect and segregate animals that do not appear normal and hold them for veterinary inspection and testing as required.
  6. Ensure proper handling and humane treatment of animals awaiting slaughter. Proper handling will also reduce bruising and injuries and increase the quality of the end product resulting in financial gain to the operator and producer.

You can speak with your inspector if you have questions on ante mortem inspection or contact Dr. Alex Reid or page her at 1-866-395-8957.


From Our Training Desk: New Food Safety and Traceability Online Courses

Give your company a competitive edge – take free eLearning courses to learn more about industry best practices and to be more competitive in the marketplace! Access the new Food Safety and Traceability eLearning courses online, the Agriculture and Food Education in Ontario online learning system through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

The new Traceability eLearning courses show how good practices can:

  • maximize productivity, improve business efficiency, reduce costs and improve business processes
  • be used to increase competitive advantage by accessing new markets improve supply chain management
  • The new Food Safety eLearning courses will help you to:

  • identify food safety hazards that can occur in your operation
  • understand best practices and develop programs to control these hazards decrease the likelihood of food safety hazards that can lead to a foodborne illness outbreak or product recall

Visit the website to register for a free account. Then simply log in and begin learning – wherever and whenever is convenient for you! Accessible versions of the courses are available. For more information, contact the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus at 519-674-1500 ext. 63295. Do you prefer classroom-based learning? Food Safety and Traceability courses and workshops are still offered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Visit their webite for the dates and locations of upcoming in-person opportunities. Online course development was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector.


From Our Training Desk: Upcoming Training Sessions

Event Date and Time Location Contacts
Food Handler Training Workshop September 20 & 21, 2017 Markham www.oimp.ca
Meat Industry Expo

October 20 & 21, 2017

Niagara Falls www.oimp.ca
Food Safety Foundations for Processors Ongoing Online agandfoodeductaion.ca
The Basics of Traceability Ongoing Online agandfoodeducation.ca

Tracing Canada's Livestock: Livestock Premises Identification Helps Canada Respond to Emergencies

The Canadian government is proposing changes to the Health of Animals Regulations that will require all farmers with livestock to have a premises identification number (PID). A PID is a unique national number assigned to a piece of land by a provincial or territorial government. Under the proposed amendments, anyone who sends or receives livestock will need a PID - including producers, auction marts, assembly yards, abattoirs and deadstock collectors.

How it works

PID's make it possible to trace an animal's movements from one point to another throughout the supply chain, making it easier in turn to control the spread of disease and minimize any impact on the industry. The proposed amendments are expected to strengthen Canada's ability to respond quickly to health threats and other emergencies.

"As farmers, we use traceability as a farm management tool. It helps us manage our animals better and bring more value to the market," said Pascal Lemire, a Québec dairy farmer. "Traceability is key to the future of Canadian agriculture."

But not every Canadian livestock operator has a PID number yet. Although all jurisdictions can issue PIDs, only Québec, Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have laws requiring them.

A free safety net

Livestock PIDs are free to Canadian farmers looking to protect their livestock should a safety issue occur, such as a flood, fire or disease outbreak. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is encouraging producers and stakeholders across the supply chain to raise this issue with their peers and register as soon as possible. Gettng involved now will help stakeholders be compliant by the time the proposed amendments are compulsory, and will prevent a surge of requests from premises yet to be identified.

Canada's reputation for producing safe and healthy food is world-class. A robust traceability system will help uphold this reputation at home and around the world.

Please visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website learn more about premises identification and how to participate.

Find out more

From The Compliance Desk: Recent Court Convictions

  • A Sharon, Ontario man was fined for violating provincial laws that require livestock dealers to be licensed. Kenneth Valliquette pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa to one count of engaging in business as a livestock dealer without a licence as required under the Livestock and Livestock Products Act, 1990 and its regulation 725/90. The court ordered Mr. Valliquette to pay a fine of $3200, plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $800 for a total of $4000.
  • A Burford, Ontario meat business and owner pleaded guilty and were fined for violating provincial laws that protect food safety. 1107053 Ontario Inc. (operating as Greenwood Meats) in Burford, and owner, Thomas A. Greenwood pleaded guilty in the Brantford Provincial Offences Court to one count each of processing meat products without a licence as required under The Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001. The court ordered Mr. Greenwood to pay a fine of $5,000, plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $1,250 for a total of $6,250. The fine ordered for 1107053 Ontario Inc. (operating as Greenwood Meats) was $3,000.00 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $750.00 for a total of $3,750.00 . This is the second time Mr. Greenwood and his company have been convicted for offences under the Act. In March 2016, Mr. Greenwood and his business were fined a total of $3000 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $750 for a similar offence.
  • An Ingersoll dairy farmer pleaded guilty in violation of Ontario Regulation 105/09 (Disposal of Deadstock) under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 and was fined $3,125 for violating a provincial law that protects animals. Mr. Kappers, owner of Olspank Dairy Inc. was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $625 for a total of $3,125 for the first count of failing to promptly kill a fallen animal or arrange for it to be killed, in a humane manner. Mr. Kappers received a suspended sentence on the second count of moving a fallen animal before it was killed.
  • An Arkona trucking company and Wyoming farmer plead guilty and were each fined $2,500 for violti.ng a provincial law that regulates the disposal of deadstock. Ernie Herrington Excavating, Trucking and Sanitation was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $500 for a total of $2,500 for one count of disposing of deadstock contrary to subsection 5 (1) of the Ontario Regulation 105/09, as amended. Mr. Mike Huybers was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $500 for a total of $2,500 for one count of disposal of deadstock, to wit counselling the commission of the offence, contrary to subsection 5 (1) of the Ontario Regulation 105/09, as amended.
  • A Woodbridge company pleaded guilty and was fined $3,125 for violating provincial laws that protect food safety. Dolce Lucano Inc. was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $625 for a total of $3,125 for one count of carrying on a Category 2 activity without a licence, as required by the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.

Help Us Enforce the Law!

Anyone with information regarding potential violations of provincial food and inspection legislation is asked to contact the OMAFRA Regulatory Compliance Unit at: (519) 826-4537 toll-free at 1-888-466-2372.



Author: Emily MacDonald
Creation Date: 15 August 2017
Last Reviewed: 15 August 2017