As the list of B.C. supermarkets and products affected by the XL Foods beef recall continues to grow, the provincial government is getting ready to take over responsibility for inspecting meat slaughtered and sold in the province.
That responsibility currently belongs to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency but is being handed back to B.C., as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The transition is expected to be complete by January.
While the CFIA has provided meat inspection services to those provinces for a number of years, in other parts of the country, the services are provided by provincial governments.
The CFIA will continue to be responsible for inspecting meat that is exported or sold between provinces.
B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, says ministry officials are currently working to identify gaps in the current inspection and testing system and find "opportunities for improvement."
Letnick says he’s confident his ministry will have adequate funding to carry out its new mandate.
"Of course I’ve been very insistent through this process that if the responsibility is coming over, so should the dollars," he says. "What I’m always asking for and what I will continue asking, is that we are properly resourced."
Citing Health Canada guidelines, Letnick says the province is unlikely to institute routine testing for E. Coli once B.C. takes over meat inspections.
"The routine testing for E. coli at slaughterhouses is not considered effective as a food safety intervention," he says. "However, we will be reviewing the potential applicability of testing in our new meat inspection system."