Ontario's Meat Inspection System


  1. Overview
  2. Provincial Meat Plant Licensing, Inspection, Audits and Labelling
  3. Transportation, Shipping and Handling and Storing
  4. Voluntary Programs - Food Safety and Traceability Assistance
  5. Farm Gate Sales and Farmers' Markets
  6. Value-Chain and Retail Initiatives
  7. Meat Products Not for Distribution or Sale
  8. Glossary
  9. Resources
  10. Appendix 1 - Summary of federal, provincial and public health roles in Ontario meat inspection systems
  11. Appendix 2 - Do You Operate a Provincial Meat Plant?

This information is for summary purposes only. For specific details refer to Ontario acts and regulations mentioned in the Resources section.

1. Overview

Any meat or meat product sold or distributed in Ontario must come from inspected sources. These sources include a provincially licensed meat plant (abattoir or free standing meat plant), a federally registered facility or other approved imported sources. The sale or distribution of uninspected meat is illegal, regardless of geographical area, distribution or retail channel.

What are the differences between provincial and federal meat inspection programs?

Provincially licensed abattoirs can sell meat only within Ontario's borders. Only facilities that are federally registered can export meat to other provinces and countries.

Provincially inspected plants tend to be smaller and often service local areas or specialty markets. Federally inspected facilities tend to be larger than provincially inspected plants, are designed for higher volumes and have to meet international and inter-provincial trade requirements.

Both the provincial and federal meat inspection systems are solidly founded in the commitment to food safety. Each system has strict food safety control measures in place, including, among other things, procedures for sanitation, production practices and record keeping. The Ontario meat inspection legislation and system are designed and delivered to provide the same food safety outcomes as the federal legislation and system (see Appendix 1).

Two types of provincial plants in Ontario

There are two types of meat plants and both must be licensed to operate in the province: abattoirs (slaughter plants) and freestanding meat plants (FSMPs or further processing facilities).

  • Abattoirs conduct food animal slaughter activities and may or may not conduct further processing activities. All abattoirs that are not federally registered need to be licensed under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.
  • FSMPs do not slaughter animals. They conduct further processing activities (e.g. aging, boning, cutting, slicing, smoking, curing, fermenting, etc.). Whether a FSMP comes under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 depends on the meat processing activities conducted, the meat products produced and the distribution of products.

A provincial licence is not required for businesses that:

  • Are restaurants, caterers, or facilities where the majority of the business conducted is food service (i.e., preparing and serving meals); or
  • Prepare only sandwiches, pizzas, bouillon, edible oil or fat, products containing less than 25 per cent meat; or
  • Perform lower risk activities and the sales to other businesses are either no greater than 25 per cent of their meat product sales or no greater than 20,000 kg of meat annually.

These activities are covered under Public Health Inspection.

2. Provincial Meat Plant Licensing, Inspection, Audits and Labelling

When it comes to meat plants, the primary purpose of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 and Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat, is to provide standards for the safe, humane slaughter of food animals and the processing of meat products in an environment that manages and minimizes the health and food safety risks to the consumer.


Abattoirs and FSMPs are licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Operators of these facilities cannot conduct activities regulated under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 without a licence to operate a meat plant unless the facility is federally registered and inspected (See Appendix 2 "Do You Operate a Provincial Meat Plant?").

General Requirements

The following are some of the things the ministry requires for a plant to become licensed:

Plant and Equipment Design and Construction

  • The plant layout is designed so that incompatible activities are separated to control cross-contamination, e.g., processing of raw meat products are kept separate from processing of ready-to-eat meat products.
  • Washrooms in a plant are separate and do not lead directly into rooms where carcass parts or meat products are prepared, packaged, labelled, refrigerated, stored or handled.
  • Surfaces that come in contact with food are non-absorbent, corrosion resistant and free of crevices to prevent accumulation of food debris and microbial growth.
  • The rooms, equipment and utensils must be constructed of materials that can be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
  • Meat products and ingredients are handled and stored in a manner that controls the growth of harmful microorganisms, prevents chemical contamination and protects them from physical damage.

Meat Plant Operations

  • The plant is free of pests.
  • Food handling areas are operated in a manner to prevent cross-contamination from non-compatible activities, ensure the hygienic processing of meat products, and allow inspection staff to conduct their duties effectively.
  • There is a system to supply the plant with potable hot and cold running water and ice that is protected against contamination.

Handling and Processing of Meat Products

  • Meat products are derived from inspected sources, are not contaminated, and are produced, processed, packaged, labelled, handled and stored in accordance with Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat.
  • Only meat products inspected under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 (Ontario), the Meat Inspection Act (Canada), or imported into Canada in accordance with the Meat Inspection Act (Canada), are received or are present at a meat plant.
  • The internal product temperature of meat products that require refrigeration is maintained at 4°C or lower.
  • Meat products and ingredients are stored in a way that prevents contamination.
  • Low-acid meat products are packaged in cans or jars that are processed so they are shelf-stable and sterile.

Training and Certification

  • There is at least one supervisor in attendance at the plant at all times when food animals are slaughtered or any other processing activities are being conducted. The supervisor has received training in hygienic food handling in a formal course or program.

The provincial Meat Inspection Program comprises approximately 160 front-line meat inspection positions. Meat inspectors are supported in their work by full-time technical and policy staff, and a team of area and regional managers.

Inspection Process and Inspector Duties

In both abattoirs and FSMPs, inspectors:

  • Monitor employee hygiene practices, operational standards and potential hazards and take actions to minimize food safety risks in these areas (chemical, biological, physical, etc.),
  • Review and verify adherence to written programs (maintenance, sanitation, pest control, recall, etc.), plant process controls and records at each plant,
  • Collect water samples for microbial testing, carcass samples for drug or microbial testing (in abattoirs) and meat product samples for microbial testing (in FSMPs),
  • Follow up on corrective actions required as a result of observed deficiencies during an inspection or audit.

In abattoirs, inspectors are assigned to each plant. Inspectors conduct inspections and are on site anytime slaughter activities are conducted. They:

  • Verify pre-operational conditions of the facility every day slaughter occurs, and
  • In FSMPs, inspectors conduct an inspection at least once every six weeks (the frequency of inspection is determined by risk and could be weekly in high-risk facilities).
  • Inspect each animal before slaughter and each carcass after slaughter (ante mortem and post mortem inspections).

    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 condemnations).
    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.

Meat Inspection Staff

The Meat Inspection Program is led by a general manager, assisted by two regional managers.

The regional managers each have a team of area managers who are responsible for the delivery of meat inspection services in all areas of the province. They schedule meat inspectors in all provincially licensed meat plants as required by regulation (Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat, under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001).

Area managers, with area coordinators, administrative staff and a team of technical experts, support meat inspectors in their work, including implementing new regulatory requirements, testing programs and inspection procedures, solving significant inspection issues and directing compliance action when needed.

Compliance Verification Audits

Meat plant compliance verification audits are conducted at least once a year. They complement Ontario's comprehensive meat inspection program by offering an additional safety checkpoint. These audits also provide meat plant operators with valuable information, which helps them improve their food safety processes.

Compliance verification audits are conducted by:

  • OMAFRA regional veterinarians in abattoirs
  • A contracted third-party audit provider (currently SAI Global) in FSMPs and the higher risk portion of abattoirs' processing operations
  • Audits result in a rating of pass, conditional pass or fail, similar to the audit rating system used by public health units for a food premises. When a meat plant passes an audit, their name is listed on OMAFRA's website. If a plant fails an audit, their name is removed from the list of licensed plants until substantial compliance with food safety requirements is achieved.


The purpose of a label is to provide basic product information to consumers. Promotional information and claims are also relayed through the use of the label.

In Canada, most pre-packaged foods require a label. A label is defined as a legend, word or mark attached to, included in, belonging to or accompanying a food (Food and Drugs Act, section 2). Only pre-packaged foods that are one-bite confections, for example candy that is sold individually, or fresh fruits and vegetables with minimal packaging, do not require a label.

Meat products produced in provincially licensed meat plants must be labelled in accordance with several regulations. They are:

  • Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat
  • Ontario Regulation 266/09 - Livestock and Poultry Carcasses -Grades and Sales
  • Food and Drugs Regulations
  • Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations
  • Weights and Measures Regulations
  • Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations

3. Transportation, Shipping and Handling and Storing

Transportation and Shipping

Transport of Live Animal

Transportation of live animals to an abattoir ("kill and chill") is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

In addition, a national Code of Practice provides guidelines for the transportation of live animals.

Transport of carcasses and meat products

The following requirements are found in Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat.

Shipping Carcasses

Shipping of fresh meat, either sides, quarters or broken down into primal cuts, back to farm of origin or to a retail outlet or FSMP is the responsibility of a licensed meat plant under Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat.

The operator of a meat plant:

  • Ensures that carcasses and meat products are shipped from the plant in a manner that protects them from physical damage;
  • Ensures that no carcass or meat product is shipped from the plant unless it is protected against deterioration and contamination;
  • Ensures, before a carcass or part of carcass is shipped from a meat plant, that the internal temperature of the warmest part of the carcass or of a part of the carcass is 4°C or less, unless the inspector has directed otherwise in accordance with subsections 83 (8), (9) or (10). O. Reg. 285/13, s. 70.
Standards for Transport Containers

The operator of a meat plant ensures that no carcasses, meat products and ingredients are received at the plant and no carcasses and meat products are shipped from the plant unless the operator inspects the transport container in which they are transported to or from the plant, and the container meets the following requirements:

  • It is clean, free of contamination and suitable for its intended use;
  • It is constructed of material that is free from anything likely to contaminate carcasses, meat products or ingredients;
  • It has inside surfaces that are hard, smooth, impervious to moisture and in good repair;
  • It is capable of protecting a carcass, meat product, ingredient and any container for a carcass, meat product or ingredient against contamination;
  • If it transports refrigerated carcasses, meat products or ingredients, it is equipped to maintain the carcasses, meat products or ingredients at an internal temperature of 4°C or less;
  • If it transports frozen carcasses, meat products or ingredients, it is equipped to maintain the carcasses, meat products or ingredients in a frozen state;
  • It is equipped to prevent the accidental freezing of carcasses, meat products and ingredients if there is a risk of freezing and if freezing could adversely affect the carcasses, meat products or ingredients;
  • It is not being used for transporting animals, inedible materials, refuse, control products as defined in section 2 and subsection 2(1) of the Pest Control Products Act (Canada), or anything else that might contaminate a carcass, meat product or ingredient.

A refrigerated truck does not require licensing by OMAFRA.

The requirements pertaining to standards for transport containers above do not apply to:

  • Meat products that are transported to a meat plant in a transport container for processing for use or consumption by an individual or the individual's family if the container contains no other meat products during the time that they are transported to the plant;
  • The carcass of a food animal that dies during transportation if the transport container in which it dies does not contain meat products or any carcasses, other than the carcass of another food animal that has also died during transportation;
  • Meat products that an individual has purchased at a meat plant and ships from the plant in a transport container for the use or consumption of the individual or that of the individual's immediate family if the container contains no other meat products during the time that they are shipped from the plant; or
  • Meat products that are:
    • Derived from a food animal or meat product that has been brought to a meat plant for slaughter or processing for an individual, and
    • Shipped from the plant in a transport container for the use or consumption of the individual or the individual's immediate family if the container, during the time that they are shipped from the plant, contains no meat products, other than meat products for the use or consumption of the individual or the individual's immediate family.

Handling and Storing

Meat and ingredients must be stored at an appropriate temperature and humidity level. Meat that is not shelf-stable must be kept refrigerated at a temperature of 4°C or kept frozen.

The operator of a meat plant ensures that meat products and ingredients used in meat products are:

  • Handled and stored in a manner that prevents their contamination;
  • Stored in a manner that keeps dry ingredients dry;
  • Stored in an environment that effectively controls the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms; and
  • Stored at the plant in a manner that protects them from physical damage.

The operator also ensures that:

  • Meat products do not come into direct contact, at the plant, with any floor, wall or other surface that is not a food contact surface; and
  • Containers of meat products are not placed in direct contact with the floor of the plant.

If ingredients used in meat products are stored at a meat plant, the operator of the plant ensures that:

  • They are labelled to indicate the name of the ingredient, its composition and directions for its use; and
  • In the case of nitrite or nitrate, packaged separately from any spice, seasoning or other protein-containing ingredient.

Dry ingredients must be kept dry until use. This can be achieved by storing ingredients in closed containers or away from processing areas.

Meat and ingredients should not be stored with incompatible items such as non-food chemicals as this could result in chemical contamination.

4. Voluntary Programs - Food Safety and Traceability Assistance

There are a number of voluntary food safety and traceability programs available to Ontario's meat plant operators and producers (on-farm).

Food Safety Programs

Food safety programs for operators and producers can help them reduce food safety risks and improve upon the important work they are already doing in this area.

They are designed to:

  • Be feasible for all sized businesses
  • Be appropriate for all commodities
  • Be easy to use
  • Complement any existing food safety program

Choosing the right food safety program can help a business' bottom line. OMAFRA's food safety advisors can help operators determine which best practices are most suitable and profitable for their business.

For meat plant operators, best practices exist for:

  • Personnel and Handling
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing
  • Water
  • Facility Interior & Exterior, Pest Control, Preventative Maintenance & Calibration
  • Recall and Traceability
  • Validation

For producers, best practices exist for:

  • Worker Practices
  • Pest control, Building Maintenance and Access
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing
  • Water
  • Soil Amendments
  • Recall and Traceability
  • Validation


There are no live animal traceability requirements under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 and provincial meat regulation.

Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) tag retirement is a federal requirement under the Health of Animals Regulations.

This legislation requires that where an animal is slaughtered, the tag may be removed, and must be reported to CCIA within 30 days. The abattoir is responsible for maintaining the identity of the carcass until it is approved for human consumption or condemned. The CFIA is responsible for enforcing the identification requirements in Canada.

5. Farm Gate Sales and Farmers' Markets

Livestock and poultry producers can sell their own meat at the farm gate or at local farmers' markets, provided the following requirements are met:

  • Like all meat offered for sale in Ontario, it is derived from an inspected source (federal or provincial).
  • If the product is pre-packaged or sold wholesale/bulk, it follows all mandatory labelling requirements.
  • Federal and provincial requirements for labelling are met. Provincial requirements include:
    • Meat inspection legend;
    • Production date/code;
    • May contain kidneys" (for poultry);
    • Appropriate use statements;
    • Storage instructions.

For federal requirements contact the CFIA.

If the products were processed and packaged at a provincially licensed abattoir, the meat and meat products must be labelled in accordance with the applicable provincial regulations before they leave the plant.

6. Value-Chain and Retail Initiatives

Producers can create value chains between their farm, slaughter/processing plants and retail so long as it is done in compliance with the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 (if applicable).

The Meat Regulation allows for a producer to transport their own meat from a provincially licensed abattoir to a provincially licensed FSMP as long as proper documentation is provided, including:

  • Name and location of the licensed plant where the animal was slaughtered;
  • The time the meat products were loaded onto the truck and the time the products were unloaded at the FSMP; and
  • Proper temperatures were maintained during transport (4°C or lower).

Producers can transport their own meat from a provincially licensed abattoir or FSMP and transport it to a retail outlet.

7. Meat Products Not for Distribution or Sale

On-Farm Slaughter

The Meat Regulation allows for on-farm slaughter but the carcasses are not for distribution and must only be consumed by the producer and the producer's immediate family (not for sale to the public).

Hunted Game

A licensed meat plant may receive a hunted game carcass at the plant if all requirements under the Meat Regulation are met.

Note: Hunted game is for personal consumption only and must be labelled "Consumer Owned, Not for Sale"

If a plant processes only hunted game, the plant:

  • Will not be licensed by OMAFRA (even if they are performing Category 2 activities such as smoking and fermenting, etc.);
  • Falls under by the local Public Health Unit's oversight.

8. Glossary

Abattoir - A business that slaughters food animals and processes, packs, and distributes meat and meat by-products.

Aging - Traditionally used to increase tenderness and flavour of beef and involves holding a carcass for 14 days (or more) under refrigeration, paying attention to temperature and humidity to avoid the development of mould.

Ante mortem inspection - Inspection of a food animal by an inspector in accordance with the Meat Regulation before the animal is slaughtered.

Boning - Removing the bones from carcass parts of slaughter animals. It is often also called deboning.

Breaking a carcass - Dividing a carcass into halves, quarters, sixths or primal cuts.

Carcass - The carcass that is derived from a food animal and that is not a farm-slaughtered carcass or a hunted game carcass.

Comminution - Process to grind or slice meat into small particles of less than 2-3 mm (e.g. for sausage making).

Compliance Verification Audit - A point-in-time that provides a picture of a plant's food safety performance against the regulatory requirements. Provincially licensed abattoirs and freestanding meat plants are audited to verify their compliance with the food safety requirements as set out in the Meat Regulation.

Contaminated - Containing or having been exposed to a chemical, physical or biological hazard. Unsafe for human consumption.

Curing - The placing of specific chemical agents in or on meat and poultry products for preservation, flavour, colour, tenderness and yield improvement.

Cut and wrap - Dividing primal cuts into consumer cuts (e.g. roasts, steaks, loins, etc.)

Dressed - The carcass of a food animal as prepared following slaughter and before processing it into cuts of meat. Depending on the species, dressing a carcass may involve splitting it and removing the head, mammary gland, hide, hair, feathers, legs, tail, joints, feet, and respiratory, digestive, reproductive and urinary systems.

Farmers' market - A central location at which a group of persons who operate stalls or other food premises meet to sell to consumers products that include farm products, baked goods and preserved foods, and at which the majority of the persons operating the stalls or other food premises are producers of farm products who are primarily selling their own products.

Federally registered - Slaughter, processing and storage/distribution establishment registered in accordance with the federal Meat Inspection Act and its regulations that ships meat products outside of the province or the country.

Fermenting - A biological process where desired bacteria grow and convert carbohydrates (sugars) to lactic acid, changing the pH of the product.

Food Premises - A premises that is not provincially licensed or federally registered where food is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale, but does not include a private residence. Food premises are regulated by Public Health Units.

Freestanding Meat Plant - A provincially licensed meat plant that does not conduct slaughter activities.

Fresh or frozen meat products - Meat products that have not been cooked or preserved.

Game - A mammal or bird that is of a species that is wild by nature, whether it is found in the wild or has been raised in captivity, including deer, elk, moose, caribou, bear and migratory and non-migratory game birds.

Grading - Subjective measure used to evaluate the quality of approved carcasses and is done after inspection. For example, marbling is important in beef and backfat thickness is important in pork. Grading is not required under the Meat Regulation and is not a food safety requirement.

HACCP - Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, an internationally recognized system used to enhance food safety throughout the food chain by preventing, reducing or eliminating potential food safety hazards, including those caused by cross-contamination.

Humane slaughter - Slaughter of a food animal at a slaughter plant in a way that does not subject the animal to avoidable pain or distress.

Marinating - Allowing meat to soak in a mixture of ingredients such as vinegar or wine, oil, spices, seasonings to enhance the flavour and tenderize the meat product.

Meat inspection - Meat plant inspections are important checkpoints along the food safety chain. By tracking, recording and monitoring activities in meat plants, the ministry helps ensure that proper slaughter and meat handling procedures are achieved.

Meat plant - A federally registered meat plant, provincially licensed slaughter plant or a provincially licensed freestanding meat plant

Meat Regulation - Ontario Regulation 31/05 under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001. It outlines the requirements for provincially licensed plants.

Mechanically separated meat - A product derived wholly from a carcass of a food animal, intended for human consumption and obtained by removing the muscle tissue attached to the bones by means of mechanical separation equipment.

Post mortem inspection - Inspection of a carcass or part of a carcass derived from a food animal by an inspector in accordance with the Meat Regulation.

Prepackaging - Packaging a meat product in a container in the manner in which it is ordinarily sold to, or used or purchased by, a consumer without being repackaged.

Preservation - To prepare so as to resist decomposition or fermentation. Preservation is accomplished by adding nitrates, salt and smoke providing properties that inhibit bacterial growth.

Primals - Primal cuts of meat are: hip, loin, rib, chuck, flank and brisket. (Note: The "short loin" is often referred to as a primal cut by industry members but not identified as a primal within the government's system.)

Provincially licensed - An operator who has been licensed to operate a slaughter plant or a free- standing meat plant and carry on regulated activities within Ontario under O. Reg. 31/05.

Ready-to-serve - Meals or meal portions that are prepared for direct sale to the consumer or for immediate consumption on the premises or elsewhere.

Ready-to-eat - Meat product that has been processed in a way to inactivate pathogenic micro-organisms or their toxins. It does not require further heating or processing in order to be safe for human consumption.

Recall - Action taken by a manufacturer or governing body to retrieve potentially harmful product from the marketplace.

Retail - Sale of meat products directly to consumers.

Smoking - Processing method used to achieve the characteristic taste and appearance of smoked food, with preservation playing a minor role. In the traditional method, meat is hung on racks in a chamber and is exposed directly to smoke generated from a fire of wood dust or chips ignited on the floor of the chamber. With the modern method, smoke is generated indirectly, filtered, then piped into the smoking chamber. Alternately, a liquid smoke flavouring can be added as an ingredient during meat processing.

Traceability - The ability to follow inputs and products, their location and their associated history, use and attributes backwards and forwards throughout the supply chain.

Value-Chain - A strategic partnership among inter-dependent businesses that collaborate to progressively create value for the final consumer resulting in a collective competitive advantage.

Wholesaler - Distribution of meat products other than directly to the consumer.

9. Resources

There are several resources to help potential operators understand their responsibilities:

  • A complete list of licensing requirements is outlined in the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 and specifically, Ontario Regulation 31/05 - Meat
  • Information on a wide range of topics related to meat inspection in Ontario, including regulations, Meat Plant Guidelines, plant procedures, plant audits and additional resources.
  • OMAFRA area managers can provide advisory services to prospective meat plant operators. To reach an area manager contact the Agriculture Information Contact Centre at:
    Agriculture Information Contact Centre
  • OMAFRA's food safety advisors provide resources that can help operators with any food safety program they may currently be using or considering.

OMAFRA has developed a number of resources for operators and producers, all at little or no cost to the operator:

  • Training (workshops, on-line)
  • Manuals
  • Growing Forward 2 Self-Assessment Tools
  • In-plant training tools (DVD, posters, easel, training kit)
  • One-on-one advice.

    Get food safety working for you!
    Contact us for advice, training or resources at:

Appendix 1 - Summary of federal, provincial and public health roles in Ontario meat inspection systems.

(The following information is also available in chart format)

Component: Inspection Body


Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)


Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

Public Health (Municipal)

Public Health Inspection

Component: Legislation/Regulation


Safe Food for Canadians Act (Canada) and regulation

Meat Inspection Act

  • Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (Canada)


Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001

  • Meat: Ontario Regulation 31/05
  • General: Ontario Regulation 222/05
  • Fees: Ontario Regulation 223/05
  • Disposal of Deadstock: Ontario Regulation 105/09
  • Livestock and Poultry Carcasses - Grades and Sales: Ontario Regulation 226/09

Public Health (Municipal)

If a facility does not meet the provincial licensing criteria it falls under the Local Public Health Unit.

Health Protection and Promotion Act

  • Ontario Food Premises Regulation

Component: Types of premises covered by legislation/regulation


  • Abattoirs
  • Meat Processors
  • Storage
  • Distribution
  • Transportation


  • Abattoirs*
  • Free Standing Meat Processors*

Public Health (Municipal)

  • Restaurants
  • Cafeterias
  • Food Shops
  • Farmers' Markets
  • Institutions

Component: Inspection of animals


  • Ante mortem
  • Post mortem


  • Ante mortem
  • Post mortem

Public Health (Municipal)

  • N/A

Component: Veterinarian involvement (abattoirs)


A veterinarian is assigned to each plant and on-site during slaughter. Veterinarian resources are available to inspector at all times to provide advice and oversight.


A trained inspector is assigned to each plant and on-site during slaughter. Veterinarian resources are available to inspector at all times to provide advice and oversight.

Public Health (Municipal)


Component: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)


Mandatory HACCP programs required in all facilities.


Mandatory good manufacturing practices (written programs and food handler training), which are the foundation of HACCP. Full HACCP programs optional.

Public Health (Municipal)


Component: Audit of facilities and operations


The CFIA performs audits on licensed facilities.


  • Audits are conducted at least once per year
  • Provide regular, routine, risk-based inspections and audits
  • Performed by OMAFRA regional veterinarians or third party service provider

Public Health (Municipal)

Public health inspectors ensure requirements are met through routine inspections, re-inspections, complaints follow-ups and food safety audits. Public health inspectors encourage compliance mainly through education and promotion. However, they may also use enforcement.

Component: Meat product testing


Facility must develop and implement approved product sampling and testing program. Adverse results must be reported to CFIA.


OMAFRA Meat Inspection Program conducts regulatory sampling and testing programs. Positive results for pathogenic organisms are shared with the CFIA. Facilities may conduct their own meat product testing.

Public Health (Municipal)


Component: Sale of meat products


  • Within the province of Ontario
  • Inter-provincially
  • Internationally


  • Within the province of Ontario

Public Health (Municipal)

Products not covered under provincial regulation.

Component: Fees


Establishment must pay for inspection services. Exact cost to a particular establishment varies depending on their size and activities. Fees are specified per activity (e.g. for an inspection station) or transaction (e.g. to have a label registered).


Inspection services are free of charge for a plant's designated hours. If the plant goes over its designated hours charges apply. License fee is $300 for a three-year term.

Public Health (Municipal)


Component: Additional


  • Ensure humane treatment of animals
  • Provides export inspections


  • Ensure humane treatment of animals
  • Plants can process hunted game provided that they meet specific criteria

Public Health (Municipal)



N/A = Not Applicable

* Provincially licensed meat plants - regulated activities


An abattoir may:

  • Slaughter food animals
  • Dress carcasses
  • Process, handle, store, package, label, sell and distributed carcasses, parts of carcasses and meat products
  • Process farm-slaughtered carcasses for owner's consumption
  • Perform any other regulated activity (e.g. further processing)

Freestanding Meat Plants (FSMPs)

FSMP licensing is mostly based on the activity carried out and the distribution of the meat products. An FSMP requires a licence if it conducts:

  • Higher risk processing activities (e.g., fermenting, smoking, curing, canning, etc.), and the majority of the business is not food service.
  • Low risk processing activities (e.g., aging, breaking a carcass, cutting, slicing, prepackaging, etc.) and distributes wholesale (i.e., other than directly to consumer):
    • If it processes "meat products" with more than 25 per cent meat;
    • If it sells more than 25 per cent of its meat product sales or more than 20,000 kg to other businesses annually; and
    • If it is not a restaurant, caterer or facility where the majority of business conducted is food service (preparing and serving meals)

    (as of January 1, 2014)


Provincial meat plant licence is not required when there is any of the following:

  • Food product exemption
  • Volume distribution exemption
  • Food Service exemption

Appendix 2

For more information:
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