Regina, Sask. – A new report by the provincial auditor has highlighted concerns with the way in which Saskatchewan’s meat slaughter plants are being inspected.
According to provincial auditor Bonnie Lysyk, meat from 76 of Saskatchewan’s 90 slaughter facilities is not being inspected by the province’s Health Ministry.
Currently meat facilities are only being reviewed annually for cleanliness and their ability to keep meat cold. Saskatchewan is the only province in which meat can be sold without being inspected.
Concerns raised in the report include the fact that the amount of meat handled by the slaughterhouses wasn’t being tracked. In addition, nine of the plants inspected by regional health authorities and judged to be medium or high-risk due to inadequacies, were not re-inspected within the proper time frame.
Lysyk’s report makes 10 recommendations to help make meat safer in the province, including that the government reassess the risks of allowing un-inspected meat to go into the market.
Meat safety in Saskatchewan falls under the responsibility of both the Health and Agriculture ministries.
While Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan says he will work with the Agriculture Ministry and regional health authorities to review the standards and recommendations, he says that the ministry will move ahead with changes cautiously.
Duncan notes that the 76 slaughter plants in question are small and deal primarily with farmers wanting beef processed for their own consumption. Changes to the way these facilities operate or are inspected could push them out of business. Duncan adds that the 14 plants that are inspected handle larger volumes of meat.