Regulatory Compliance Model

Meat Inspection Program - Regulatory Compliance Model

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' (OMAFRA) Meat Inspection Program takes a risk-based approach to regulatory compliance. There are many tools available to meat inspectors to ensure ongoing compliance with food safety and animal welfare requirements. The program's Regulatory Compliance Model helps guide meat inspectors in selecting the compliance approach to take when non-compliance is found. It also provides transparency to meat plant operators in understanding the decision-making process on the action taken by a meat inspector to ensure meat plants meet the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 and O. Reg. 31/05.

The Regulatory Compliance Model is a tool created by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (<abbr title=OMAFRA) for its Meat Inspection Program. It is a visual tool to help OMAFRA meat plant inspectors ensure ongoing compliance with food safety and animal welfare requirements from meat plant operators. The tool is designed as five concentric rings around a centre point that guides inspectors in selecting a compliance approach to take when non-compliance is observed. It also provides transparency to meat plant operators in understanding the decision-making process of OMAFRA inspectors.">

How the model works

Incidents of non-compliance in licenced meat plants can be identified in many ways including inspections, audits, testing results, referral by other regulatory authorities and complaints.

The food safety and animal welfare risks from these incidents of non-compliance are then assessed to determine if the hazard is low, medium, high, significant or critical.

The compliance history of the operator is considered along with the operator's level of cooperation in addressing the hazard(s) (Proactive, Cooperative, Uncooperative or Obstructive).

Once these factors are considered, a meat inspector will then determine the compliance tool to use to address non-compliance.

Compliance Tools

Inspection actions are to be supported by authorities granted by legislation and regulations. The model allows for some discretion on the meat inspector's part to decide the appropriate compliance tool to address the food safety and animal welfare risks. These tools are intended to be used in a progressive manner; however, they may be escalated depending on the risk, previous compliance history and/or level of cooperation of the meat plant.

Communication (Client Perspective)

Communication is critical to understanding the risk meat inspectors are trying to address and the actions they are taking to address them. Throughout the compliance continuum, the perspective of the meat plant is important to ensure both sides understand the position each is taking with regard to the food safety and animal welfare risk that has been identified and the progressive compliance actions that may be taken. If a meat plant is not satisfied with the action taken by staff in the Meat Inspection Program, they can contact the Area Manager or Regional Manager.

Compliance Promotion

Includes education, awareness and information and generally used for a low to medium risk non-compliance issue that is corrected at the time the inspector identifies a deficiency.

Administrative Compliance Action

Includes verbal warnings, written warnings, and compliance orders. These actions may be taken when there is a higher food safety or animal welfare risk or for lower risk items when a plant is chronically non-compliant with regulatory requirements.

Enforcement Actions

When compliance issues in a meat plant are frequent and ongoing or when there is high, significant or critical food safety or animal welfare risks, consequences can include product(s) being detained or condemned, withdrawal of inspection services or licence suspension.

Licence Revocation - Prosecution

An operator can lose their licence if they do not meet the requirements of the legislation or if they violate the regulations.

Depending upon the type and severity of the violation, OMAFRA's Veterinarian Inspectors can be involved to help ensure the production of safe food that includes proper animal welfare practices. Veterinarians can exercise their own regulatory authority to direct inspectors and/or meat plants on addressing a food safety and/or animal welfare risk.

Compliance and Advisory Officers and Agriculture Investigators from OMAFRA's Regulatory Compliance Unit (RCU) offer enhanced support to address more serious or chronic cases of non-compliance. The RCU also coordinates the hearing process when meat plants wish to formally appeal Meat Inspection Program decisions.

Other regulatory authorities

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

The CFIA has its own legislative and regulatory authorities to address federal food safety and animal welfare concerns at provincially licenced meat plants. OMAFRA's Meat Inspection Program can work with the CFIA to arrange joint visits as required at provincial meat plants to regulate them more efficiently.

Public Health Units (PHUs)

To help reduce confusion, the Meat Inspection Program entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to clarify regulatory responsibilities between meat inspectors and public health inspectors. Under the Food Premises Regulation of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, PHUs are responsible for the inspection of retail or food service areas in a meat plant, while OMAFRA's Meat Inspection Program is primarily responsible for inspecting the processing area of a provincially licensed meat plant. The Meat Inspection Program can work with PHUs to arrange joint visits as required.

Further Information

Learn more by accessing OMAFRA's Meat Inspection information.

For more information on the compliance model, please contact your Area Manager or speak with your Inspector. Alternatively, you can email questions to

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300