In BC, all slaughter establishments are either federally registered meat plants with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or are provincially licenced. Provincially licenced Class A or B slaughter establishments are found throughout the province including the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and Okanagan, as well as the North (map). Slaughterhouses which are federally registered are permitted to export their product to outside the province. Slaughter establishments that are provincially licenced are only permitted to sell their product within the province.
New Provincial Meat Inspection System
In 2010, the Ministry of Health established a steering committee to develop a report with options for a new provincial meat inspection system. This process, entitled the B.C. Abattoir Inspection Review, was a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Food Processors Association. For more information, see Consultations to Develop a New Provincial Meat Inspection System.
B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Approach for Meat Production and Processing
British Columbia has a system for ensuring that meat produced in B.C. is safe for consumers, while providing enough slaughter and meat processing capacity for the entire province. This system is governed by the Meat Inspection Regulation (MIR).
The MIR ensures that animals are humanely handled and slaughtered; carcasses are processed in a clean environment; and meat is packaged and stored in ways that reduce contamination risks. Conditions in the meat processing sector have been transformed and modernized significantly as a result of this regulation, and the number of licenced slaughter plants in B.C. has increased significantly since its introduction.
The MIR establishes several classes of provincial slaughter licences. Class A licences permit both slaughter and cut-and-wrap services. Class B licences permit slaughter only. Amendments to the regulation in April 2010 introduced a graduated licencing system that includes two new licences (Class D and Class E) designed to support local livestock and meat production in B.C.'s more remote and rural communities.
Regulatory changes also included phasing out the Class C licence, which was temporarily issued to enable meat processors to transition to full licensing, and enhanced ticketing provisions for violations of the MIR.
Class A & B Licences
The transportation of meat from a slaughter establishment is an important aspect of ensuring meat is safe to consume. This applies to anyone who handles, transports, distributes and stores meat products and carcasses destined for public sale and human consumption. This includes owners and operators of food premises, such as licenced slaughter establishments, butcher shops, food retailers and those who transport meat products to any of these facilities. A guideline has been developed that provides guidance for the safe transportation for carcasses, poultry and meat products.
If you are interested in constructing a provincially licenced Class A or B slaughter establishment, there are a number of resources available to aid you. While not complicated, it is a step-by-step process. The process for achieving provincial licensing of a Class A or B slaughter establishment is outlined in the Protocol for Provincial Abattoir Assessments and Licensing . Before an application for licensing will be considered, the Application for Slaughter Establishment Assessment must first be completed. Once the assessment has been completed and is satisfactory, a detailed package of information must be submitted with the application for licence.
The guidelines provided here are not law. For legal requirements, see the Meat Inspection Regulation. Guidelines are designed to provide guidance on how the outcomes identified in the Meat Inspection Regulation can be achieved. There may be alternative means of achieving those outcomes, and a licence applicant may propose alternatives during the licensing process.
The information on these pages represents the work we do on behalf of the public, industry and government. Some of this information was written for the general public and some was written in technical language for public health.
- Establishment Operator and Animal Producer Agent Emergency Slaughter Guidelines September 2014 [PDF 234KB]
- Guidelines for Veterinary Practitioners August 2014 [PDF 202KB]
- Document for an Approved Emergency Slaughter at a Provincially Licensed Establishment September23, 2014 [PDF 174 KB]
- Document for an Approved Emergency Slaughter on Farm September 23, 2014 [PDF 176 KB]
Contact Us:Food Safety and Inspection Branch