Ottawa – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) could have the power to fine meat-processing plants up to $15,000 for food safety and other violations.
The CFIA says the regulatory change would give the agency another tool to help keep consumers safe, reports The Canadian Press.
CFIA inspectors already have the power to issue written warnings to meat processing companies when problems are found. If the cases are serious, inspectors can suspend a plant’s licence and shut it down.
The proposed fines range from $2,000 to $15,000 for violations. Inspectors could impose the fines on meat companies that are regularly in violation of food safety rules.
The Canadian Meat Council, which represents federally inspected meat-packing and processing companies, told The Canadian Press that the meat industry doesn’t feel there is a need for monetary fines.
Rick Holley, a food safety expert from the University of Manitoba, told The Canadian Press that he doesn’t believe fines will make food safer. Holley says the CFIA should focus on training inspectors “to a uniform standard.”
The idea to institute fines for certain violations came about after the E. coli outbreak from XL Foods. An independent report released afterward proposed the idea of using fines.
The government, says The Canadian Press, would have to amend existing agriculture and agri-food regulations to make the fines work. But that may or may not be finalized this year.