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Increasing Alta.’s food inspector capacity

Increasing Alta.’s food inspector capacity

The provincial and federal governments are working together as demand for meat increases

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Two levels of government are working together to ensure federally licensed meat processing facilities can handle the increased demand brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

Alberta is partnering with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to train more provincial meat inspectors and allow them to be placed in federally licensed plants.

Alberta is home to about 75 animal processing and meat storage facilities that are regulated by the CFIA.

The agri-food sector must be prepared to meet consumer needs brought on by COVID-19, said Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s agriculture minister.

“It is critical for Alberta families, our food supply and to our economy that the meat industry operates at its maximum capacity,” he said in a statement on April 1. “We are working with the CFIA to integrate our provincial inspectors into federally licensed plants to help keep Albertans fed.”

The provincial inspectors will be placed into the federally registered plants as needed.

The partnership is another way the federal government is working with the provinces to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We must continue to provide high-quality food for Canadians, while ensuring we protect the health of our workers,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal ag minister, said in the statement. “By working together, our governments have ensured we have a COVID-19 contingency plan for inspection workers.”

Industry organizations are pleased Alberta and Ottawa are working together in this capacity.

"The plant protocols in place to protect workers from COVID-19 has slowed down processing lines and increased hours of operation, along with some increase in demand for beef," Rich Smith, executive director of Alberta Beef Producers, told Farms.com. "We applaud this partnership between the federal and provincial governments to help keep this critical part of our food production system operating during this pandemic."

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