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Are you concerned about the quality of your meat?

I’m sure many Canadians would like to know the quality of the meat they pick up from their local butcher’s shop or from the grocery store. Too often there are cases of product recalls due to contamination, health concerns, and even mislabeling of meat products.

In March 2017, the Canadian government banned the import of meats from two Brazilian food plants due to allegations of meat alterations and distribution of rotten meat. Inspectors in Brazil would turn a blind eye for a pay off. It was a major food scandal that affected other countries globally — even the European Union banned imports from these producers and 20 other plants were being investigated at that time by local authorities. I am sure that people would like to ensure the safety of the meat and poultry products we consume in Canada.

In September 2016, the U.S officials from the Department of Agriculture conducted audits on various slaughterhouses across Canada, including Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. A year later, the results of the audits were released to the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency and found that Canadian inspection standards were below the inspection procedures in the United States. There were no inspections done to ensure the cleaning of digestive waste and residual feces on animal carcasses in Canada. Between 2013-2015, 60,000 kg of Canadian meat and poultry products were rejected by the U.S over public safety concerns or not having contamination free carcasses. Despite this being a relatively average number for the period of time, Canadians still want to ensure the quality of the meat they are consuming.

It is not just the quality and contamination of meats that Canadians have to worry about. There is the bigger problem of mislabeling. When it comes to the mislabeling of meat it is a trickier and upsetting battle. People would like to trust the labels that say things like 100 per cent beef or 100 per cent pork. Unfortunately, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph concluded that one in five sausages tested across Canada contained another meat  that wasn’t listed on the label. This means there is an issue of mislabeling and ‘cross species contamination’.

This information was gathered from 20 per cent of sausage samples from grocery stores across the country. Conclusions showed a number of meat substitutions and fillers — and even one pork sausage contained horse meat. Of 15 turkey sausage packages, five packages were entirely chicken though listed as turkey. The study was funded by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a sort of baseline for testing processors and food quality.

The Canadian Food and Inspection Agency responded to the report by saying the results were disappointing and in some cases it may be an issue of poor cleaning of the machinery that causes cross contamination, basic negligence, and finally food fraud with the intent of mislabeling to cut costs. Further investigations are being carried out to ensure cases like this are reduced or non existent.

Let us know in the comments below what changes you would like to see and how you feel about meat handling and mislabeling.