Frequently Asked Questions
Changes to Meat Regulation

The following questions and answers are provided as a plain language interpretation of the amendments to assist staff and plant operators.

This document is subject to change and is for summary and information purposes only. For specific details refer to Ontario Regulation 31/05 (Meat). Some businesses may be subject to inspection by both OMAF and public health. The regulation may apply differently than indicated above in specific situations.

General

1. Why was the regulation changed?

  • The regulation was changed to:
    • Ensure OMAF is regulating the right businesses;
    • Move toward a more flexible and more outcome-based regulation;
    • Reduce burden;
    • Remove barriers; and
    • Clarify the language in the regulation.

2. Who had input into the changes?

  • Working groups were formed in January 2012 to determine the scope of the changes that would be made to the regulation. The groups included Meat Inspection management, field staff, Food Safety Science Unit, and the Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP).
  • The proposed changes to the Meat Regulation were posted on the Ontario's Regulatory Registry in April for public consultation. Feedback was collected through written comments, public meetings and a workshop
    • 120 participants attended public consultation sessions in early May either attending in person or via WebEx/teleconference.
    • Over 50 written submissions containing feedback were received via the Regulatory Registry, email, mail and fax
  • A workshop was held to further refine the proposed policy changes. Attendees included staff from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Public Health Inspectors, restaurant and retail associations, and OIMP.

3. What are the changes:

  • The changes to the Meat Regulation:
    • Provide exemptions, so that some businesses will not require a meat plant licence;
    • Allow operators the option of receiving inspected meat products from unlicensed facilities, if minimum food safety requirements are met;
    • Improve animal handling and care standards in slaughter plants; and
    • Reduce regulatory burden and provide a clearer, modernized and more outcome-based regulation.
  • The amended regulation can be viewed at: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_050031_e.htm.
  • The Meat Plant Guidelines have been revised and are available online at ontario.ca/meatinspection.

4. Will the changes to the Meat Regulation affect food safety in Ontario?

  • No. The ministry continually reviews the regulation to make sure food safety outcomes are clearly outlined while remaining achievable for meat plant operations.
  • The new food safety rules are strong, appropriate for the food safety risks and workable on the ground. They also support the continued success of Ontario's meat plants, restaurant and food retail businesses.
  • Operations exempted from the Meat Regulation will be inspected by local public health units.

Licensing

1. What is the Food Service Exemption?

  • Businesses are exempt from licensing if the majority of the business' sales are meals or meal portions prepared for immediate consumption on the premises or elsewhere. This means a restaurant or caterer would not require a licence if more than 50% of their business is preparing and serving meals.

2. What is 'majority' calculated in the Food Service Exemption?

  • A business is exempt from licensing if more than 50% of sales are food service. This is measured by the dollar value of total sales in a year, or the total weight of meat products sold in a year. If a business has not been in operation for a year, this is based on the projected sales by the dollar value of total sales in a year or the total weight of meat products for a year.

3. What is the definition of food service premise?

  • "Food service premise" means any food premise where meals or meal portions are prepared for immediate consumption or sold or served in a form that will permit immediate consumption on the premises or elsewhere (defined by the Food Premises Regulation). Examples of a food service premises include a restaurant or caterer.

4. How can an operator determine the percentage of food service sales?

  • The percentage of food service sales is measured by the dollar value of total sales in a year or the total weight of meat products sold in a year. (If a business has not been in operation for a year, this is based on the projected sales by the dollar value of total sales in a year or the total weight of meat products for a year.)
  • The following formulas may be used to determine the percentage of food service sales:
    • Method 1 (Based on dollar value of total sales)

      Sales from Food Service ($) x 100% = % Food Service

      Total Sales ($)

    • Method 2 (Based on weight of meat products):

      A - B x (-100%) = % Food Service

      B

      A = Meat Product Sold Retail (kg) + Meat Product Sold Wholesale (kg) + Any Other Non-Food-Service Sale or Distribution (kg)

      B = Received Meat Product (kg)

5. A facility makes summer sausage that is sold at both their retail counter and restaurant. Customers take home pieces of summer sausage. Does this business require a meat plant license?

  • This business may be exempt from licensing if more than 50% of sales are food service. This is measured by the dollar value of total sales in the preceding fiscal year, or the total weight of meat products sold in a year in the preceding fiscal year. If a business has not been in operation for a year, this is based on the projected sales by the dollar value of total sales in a year or the total weight of meat products for a year.

6. Can a restaurant wholesale their ribs that have been smoked on-site if more than 50 per cent of their business is food service?

  • Restaurants can retail and/or wholesale some meat products and may not require a licence if more than 50 per cent of sales is food service.
  • This is measured by the dollar value of total sales in the preceding fiscal year, or the total weight of meat products sold in a year in the preceding fiscal year. (If a business has not been in operation for a year, this is based on the projected sales by the dollar value of total sales in a year or the total weight of meat products for a year.)

7. What is the Food Product Exemption?

  • A provincial license 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

8. What is edible oil?

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

9. What is bouillon?

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

10. 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.
  • The following formula may be used to determine the percentage of meat in product:

    Total raw weight of meat ingredients in product (kg) x 100 = % meat in product

    Total raw weight of all ingredients in product (kg)

11. Is water considered an ingredient when determining the per cent of meat?

  • The percentage of meat in a product is determined by raw weight of the product's total ingredients (including water if this is an ingredient).

12. What is the Volume Distribution Exemption?

  • Businesses may wholesale a portion of their meat products without requiring a provincial licence. A business is exempt from licensing if the business:
  • Only performs Category 1 activities; and
  • Sales to wholesale markets do not exceed the greater of:
    • 25% of meat products sold in a fiscal year; and
    • 20,000 kg of meat products sold in a fiscal year.
  • A business would require a licence if they exceed both 25% and 20,000 kg.

13. How can an operator determine the percentage sold to wholesale markets:

  • The following formulas may be used to determine the percentage sold to wholesale markets (These calculations include box in-box out sales weights):

Meat products sold or distributed to other businesses (non-direct consumer) (kg) x 100% = % wholesale

Meat products received at the facility (kg)

Meat products received at the facility (kg) - meat products sold retail (kg) x 100% = %Wholesale

Meat products received at the facility (kg)

14. Do box in-box out sales count toward the sales to wholesale markets for the volume distribution exemptions?

  • Yes, box in-box out sales count toward the sales to wholesale markets and these must be considered in determining whether this exemption applies.

15. How does an operator confirm they are exempt?

  • Beginning in February 2014, meat inspection area managers will evaluate plants identified as potentially being exempt from licensing. A process is being developed to ensure a consistent approach to the evaluation of plants, their activities and transition to public health inspection if necessary. More information will be shared as soon as it is available.

16. Who is responsible for food safety oversight in facilities that are no longer subject to the Meat Regulation?

  • These businesses are subject to public health inspection under the Food Premises Regulation of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

17. Will plants be licensed if they are exempt under the regulation?

  • No. To be licensed, plants must conduct regulated activities.

18. 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 Regulation 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 OMAF and MRA and the municipal public health unit will be monitoring the business activities from time to time for compliance with applicable regulations. Ongoing liaison between OMAF and MRA and municipal public health units will further strengthen this oversight.

19. What authority do inspectors have that allows them to require a person to provide records to verify information (sales, etc.)?

  • " The Food Safety and Quality Act (FSQA) section 24 (1)(2)(a)(ii) provides authority for an inspector appointed under the act to request information if the inspector reasonably believes that the premises is used to carry on an activity regulated under the act or the Meat Regulation.
  • The information, such as records of sales, must be relevant to the purpose of the inspection (e.g., to determine if a licence is required).
  • Under section 24(1) of the FSQA, an inspector may, without warrant or court order, enter and inspect any premises in accordance with this section if,
    (a) the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe that the premises is used for the purpose of carrying on a regulated activity; and
    (b) the inspector is conducting the inspection for the purpose of determining whether a person is carrying on a regulated activity in accordance with this Act and the regulations.
  • As per section 24(2), in an inspection under this section, an inspector may demand the production of any books, records or other documents relevant to the subject matter of the inspection or copies of extracts from the books, records or other documents.

Receiving Inspected Products Indirectly

1. Can a licensed plant receive inspected meat products from an unlicensed facility, such as a cold storage?

  • Operators have the option of receiving inspected meat products from indirectly, providing minimum food safety requirements are met. If an operator chooses to receive inspected meat products indirectly, the operator is responsible for ensuring the following requirements are met:
    • Meat products have been packaged and labelled at a provincially licensed meat plant or a federally registered establishment. Meat products have been stamped or labelled with an inspection legend.
    • The packaging integrity has been maintained. Where an inspection legend is applied to both a bulk container and pre-packaging, the container or package that is closest to the meat product has not been opened, damaged or broken.
    • The meat products have been maintained at appropriate temperatures. There must be evidence to satisfy the operator that since the meat product left the originating meat plant or establishment that it has been maintained at 4 degrees Celsius or less or kept in a frozen state. Alternatively, there must be evidence that meat products have been subject to procedures that would ensure it was maintained at these temperatures.

2. When receiving inspected meat products indirectly, what constitutes 'evidence' that meat products have been maintained at appropriate temperatures?

  • There must be evidence to satisfy the operator that since the meat product left the originating meat plant or establishment that it has been maintained at 4 degrees Celsius or less or kept in a frozen state. This could include:
    • verifying the temperature of products at the time of receipt
    • visual inspection to check that there is no product deterioration
    • inspection to check for spoilage (e.g. off-odour, slimy texture)
  • Alternatively, there must be evidence that meat products have been subject to procedures that would ensure they were maintained at these temperatures. This could include temperature records for the product while it was at the unlicensed facility. Operators may also want to maintain good relationships with suppliers and may visit their suppliers' facilities to ensure operations meet their expectations.

3. Can meat products be purchased at a retail store, brought to a plant, processed and then sold?

  • Operators have the option of receiving inspected meat products indirectly (i.e., not directly from a provincially licensed meat plant or a federally registered establishment), providing minimum food safety requirements are met. If an operator chooses to receive inspected meat products indirectly, the operator is responsible for ensuring requirements are met (same requirements as in Question 1).

4. Are products that are returned from a farmers' market allowed to come back to the original plant?

  • Yes, operators have the option of receiving inspected meat products indirectly (such as returns from a farmers market), providing food safety requirements are met. If an operator chooses to receive inspected meat products indirectly, the operator is responsible for ensuring requirements are met (same requirements as in Question 1 above).

Labelling

1. What are the labelling requirements?

  • The amendments revoked labelling requirements in O. Reg. 31/05 that were found in federal labelling regulations.
  • While these requirements are no longer found in O. Reg. 31/05, provincial meat plants are subject to both federal and provincial labelling requirements.
  • Under O. Reg. 31/05 , pre-packaged meat products, bulk containers and non-pre-packaged meat products are required to have:
    • Meat Inspection Legend (O. Reg.31/05 s. 113)
    • Production Date or Code, unless meat product is a carcass or half carcass (O.Reg.31/05 s. 116(2))
    • All required information is easily legible and in characters not less than 1.6mm in height (unless the principal display area is 10cm2 or less in which case the information may be in characters not less than 0.8mm in height) (O. Reg. 31/05 s.124)
    • Storage Instructions ("Keep Refrigerated / Garder au Froid" or "Keep Frozen / Garder Congélé") if the meat product is not shelf-stable or does not meet any conditions specified in the legislation (O. Reg.31/05 s.121)
    • Appropriate use statements ("ready to cook", "uncooked", "ready to cook/prêt à cuire" or "uncooked/non cuit" or an equivalent term) and cooking instructions when the product is not ready-to-eat but appears to be ready-to-eat (O.Reg.31/05 s.119 (3))
    • The words "May contain kidneys" or "May contain kidneys/Peut contenir des reins" are stated on labels for young chickens or young ducks (O. Reg. s.118 (7)(b))
    • The words "clean, green" or "clean, green/lavé, vert" if the meat product is a part of an alimentary tract that has not been scalded or bleached but cleaned in another manner (O.Reg.31/05 s. 119(4)).
    • Where there is a standard set out in Table 1 Meat Product Standards of O. Reg. 31/05, the product conforms to the standards set out by the table and the related common name is used on the label (O.Reg.31/05 s. 119, 138)
    • When a word or phrase from the Table in section 119 Labelling Restrictions Based on Processing of Meat Products is shown on the label of a meat product, the meat product has met the related requirements of this table. (O. Reg. 31/05 s. 119)

2. Plant A receives pre-packaged product from another provincially licensed plant (Plant B) Plant A opens and repackages the product. Who's legend is required on the final product?

  • Plant A's legend is required on the final product as they last packaged the product.
  • O. Reg. 31/05 112 (4) states: No person shall apply an inspection legend to a meat product or to a label required under this Part for a meat product except at the meat plant at which the meat product was processed or packaged.

3. Are products with less than 25% meat required to have a legend when produced at a licensed plant?

  • Yes, products that contain meat (less than 25%) that are produced in a licensed plant must have the inspection legend applied. However, products that are non-meat, cheese curds as an example, may not have the legend on them.

4. Are meat products specifically exempt from licensing (sandwiches containing meat, pizza containing meat, bouillon, edible oil), required to have a legend when produced at a licensed meat plant?

  • Yes, these products produced in a licensed plant are considered meat products and must meet the labelling requirements of the Meat Regulation.

5. Is it acceptable to apply a blank legend and then add a number to the box, package, etc.?

  • No. The legend must be applied as required by O. Reg. 31/05.

6. If a non-licensed business buys inspected product, processes it and re-packages it, will the product require a label with a legend?

  • The inspection legend must be applied at the plant at which the meat product was processed or packaged. The inspection legend cannot be applied at a secondary location (for example another meat plant, or retail store).

7. Is the meat inspection legend allowed to be on a truck or other marketing materials?

  • No. The inspection legend is only permitted to be applied to a meat product or the label of a meat product. The Meat Regulation was amended to clarify this. Section 112 (2.2) now states:

    No person shall apply an inspection legend to anything other than a meat product or a label required under this Part for a meat product.

Animal Handling and Care

1. Does the secondary stunning method need to be written in to a protocol?

  • The regulation change requiring a second instrument, alternative equipment or method for stunning takes effect on July 1, 2014. Further guidance is being developed.
  • Written permission is not needed for an operator to designate an instrument or equipment as a back-up stunner if that instrument or equipment is acceptable for normal stunning in licensed meat plants. If asked, the operator must be able to show they have the second instrument or alternative piece of equipment.
  • If the second instrument or alternative equipment or alternative method is not normally used for stunning in a licensed meat plant, Regional Veterinarian (RV) approval is required. The RV approval specifies the instrument, equipment, or method(s) that may be used in the event of primary stunner failure and under what circumstances.

2. What does readily available mean in regards to a second instrument or alternative equipment to render an animal unconscious?

  • The regulation change requiring a second instrument, alternative equipment or method for stunning takes effect July 1, 2014.
  • The purpose of the second instrument or alternative equipment is to end suffering or distress of an animal that is partially stunned.
  • The second instrument or alternative equipment should be within the plant, easily accessible and functioning.
  • If asked, the operator must be able to show they have the second instrument or alternative piece of equipment.

3. Is halal is an acceptable back-up method?

  • No. The regulation requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter.
  • The regulation change requires a second instrument, alternative equipment or method for stunning.
  • Further questions for a specific plant should be referred to the regional veterinarian for that area.
  • If a plant requests permission to conduct no stun slaughter, it may only be permitted for ritual slaughter in accordance with religious practice (O. Reg. 31/05 s. 75(8)) and for no other reason.
  • Plants that conduct no stun slaughter routinely must have an alternative method of stunning for humane reasons.

4. Does O. Reg. 31/05 s. 60 (1.1) apply to all species (white and red)?

  • The regulation does not specify any particular species of animal and applies to ALL food animals. Operators are responsible for ensuring that no person loads or unloads a food animal at a slaughter plant, or causes it to be loaded or unloaded at a slaughter plant, in a way that is likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it.

Inedible Material

1. For slaughter plants, are processing operations included in the 24-hour period or next operational day in terms of the inedible materials requirement?

  • Yes. Processing operations are included in the 24-hour period.
  • Slaughter plants must have an inedible materials room except when:
      • inedible material is removed from the plant before the start of operations (including processing operations) on the next day, or
      • if the plant is not operating the next day, within 24 hours of the end of the day on which the inedible material was generated.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAF Staff
Creation Date: 20 December 2013
Last Reviewed: 10 February 2014