Do the changes to the Meat Regulation affect my business?

Overview of Amendments to O. Reg. 31/05 and Useful Information for Operators

Changes to the Meat Regulation are effective January 1, 2014.

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Changes have been made to Ontario's meat inspection regulations. These changes support food safety for the public; clarify that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food's (OMAF's) role is the inspection of slaughter plants and higher risk meat processing at freestanding meat plants; and make it easier for businesses to comply with the regulations.

The new food safety requirements are strong, appropriate for the level of risk and workable on the ground; they also support a dynamic and innovative business climate and the continued success of Ontario's meat plants. In addition, animal welfare continues to be a key focus and priority, therefore we are making changes that will improve animal handling and care standards at slaughter plants.

What are the changes?

The changes to the Meat Regulation:

  • Provide exemptions, so that some businesses will not require a meat plant licence;
  • Allow operators the option of receiving inspected meat products from unlicensed facilities, if minimum food safety requirements are met;
  • Improve animal handling and care standards in slaughter plants;
  • Reduce regulatory burden and provide a clearer, modernized and more outcome-based regulation.

All the changes are effective January 1, 2014, with the exception of two animal welfare amendments.

This document is for summary and information purposes only. For specific details refer to Ontario Regulation 31/05 (Meat). The regulation may apply differently than indicated above in specific situations.

Regulating the Right Business

All businesses handling meat in the province of Ontario are regulated by municipal health units, provincially by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) or federally by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The changes to the Meat Regulation clarify OMAF's role in the inspection system. The amendments reflect OMAF's role-inspection of slaughter plants and higher risk meat processing plants. These are businesses that require the ministry's focus as they distribute a significant portion of their meat products through wholesale markets or perform higher risk meat processing activities. The public health unit's role continues to focus on food premises, those businesses that serve the general public.

Three amendments clarify when a provincial meat plant licence is not required:

  1. Food product exemption
  2. Volume distribution exemption
  3. Food service exemption

Food Product Exemption

A provincial licence is not required if a business only prepares:

  • Sandwiches that contain meat as an ingredient
  • Pizzas that include meat as an ingredient
  • Edible oil or fat
  • Bouillon
  • Any other meat product, if the amount of meat contained in it is 25 percent or less by weight of the product's total ingredients.

Volume Distribution Exemption

Businesses may wholesale a small portion of meat products without requiring a provincial licence. A business is exempt from licensing if the business;

  • Only performs lower risk activities (Category 1 activities); and
  • Sales to wholesale markets do not exceed the greater of either:
  • 25 percent of meat products sold in a fiscal year; and
  • 20,000 kg of meat products sold in a fiscal year.

Food Service Exemption

Businesses are exempt from licensing if the majority of the business' sales are meals or meal portions prepared for immediate consumption on the premises or elsewhere. This means that a restaurant or caterer would not require a provincial licence if more than 50 percent of their business is preparing meals.

Operators May Receive Inspected Products From Unlicensed Facilities

Meat plant operators now have the option of receiving inspected meat products from unlicensed facilities if minimum food safety requirements are met. The operator receiving the products is responsible for ensuring the following requirements are met:

  • The meat products were packaged and labelled at a licensed meat plant or a federally registered establishment and have an inspection legend.
  • At the time the products are received at the licensed meat plant:
    • The container or package with the inspection legend has not been opened, damaged or broken; or
    • If the inspection legend was applied to both a bulk container and pre-packaging, the container or package that is closest to the meat product has not been opened, damaged or broken.
  • The is evidence to satisfy the operator that since the meat products left the originating meat plant or establishment they have been kept at 4° Celsius or less for refrigerated products or kept in a frozen state for frozen products. Alternatively, the products were subject to procedures to ensure they were kept at these temperatures.

Animal Handling and Care

The amendments strengthen animal welfare requirements in slaughter plants and bring provincial requirements in line with national and international standards. The four changes are as follows:

  • Rabbits can no longer permitted to be suspended while conscious.
  • Operators must ensure that animals are not loaded or unloaded in a way that causes injury and undue stress to the animal.
  • Operators must have a back-up device to stun animals. This could include an alternative piece of equipment or another method in the event of equipment failure or improper stunning. Effective July 1, 2014
  • Operators must have appropriate equipment to restrain and euthanize animals that are found compromised, unfit or non-ambulatory in their holding pens or crates. Effective July 1, 2014

Other Amendments

Several other amendments were made to reduce burden on meat plant operators and create a more flexible regulation. Examples of these changes include:

  • Allowing portable lighting, temporary or task lighting to meet the lux requirements in a meat plant
  • Reducing some of the lux values for lighting
  • Removing the construction requirement for a separate dry storage room
  • Office washrooms no longer have to meet the same construction requirements as washrooms in the plant area (if there is more than one washroom in the building)
  • Rather than requiring freestanding meat plants to have their own washrooms, it is now acceptable to have access to a washroom
  • Clarifying that a change area does not have to be separate from a processing area in some cases
  • Removing the need for slaughter plants to have a telephone and workspace specifically for the inspector
  • Allowing products to be transported in a "frozen state" rather than requiring a specific temperature
  • Clarifying that freestanding meat plants can process and sell pet food
  • Removing the requirement for an inedible materials room in slaughter plants, if they dispose of inedible material within 24 hours or before the start of operations on the next day

Where can I get information and help?

OMAF staff are here to help and answer all your questions, as the changes to the regulatory requirement come into effect.

Resources and materials are also available and staff will work closely with you to provide education and advice.

Resources available to operators include:

Do you still have questions about the changes to the Regulation?

OMAF area managers will gladly answer your questions. To reach your area manager, please page him or her at 1-800-263-1420 and ask for the manager by name. You can also call your manager directly at:

Area Area Manager Telephone
Brighton Robin Drew 613 475-5446
Greater Toronto Area Ivona Jarosz 416 235-6690
Guelph Alan Yee 519 826-4368
Kemptville Vickie Sauvé 613 679-2825
Midhurst Travis McMunn 705 725-7292
Peel Region Eloise Jones 416 235-4086
Ridgetown Jeff Richards 519 674-1534
Scarborough Sanjay Sharma 416 235-4591
Stratford Mark Mitchell 519 271-8278
Verner Doug McLean 705 594-2314
Thunder Bay Nick Van Lankveld 519-826-4281
Vineland Kim Landers 905 562-1710
Woodstock Ed Bailey 519 537-5646
York Pierre Adrien 416 235-6585

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAF Staff
Creation Date: 02 January 2014
Last Reviewed: 02 January 2014