Dead before reaching the meat packers
The Harper government wants to allow the meat of animals that died before reaching the slaughterhouse to be processed for human consumption.
The announcement appears in the "Canada Gazette," the official document of the federal government.
The decision raises serious concerns among some people as to the safety of Canada's food system.
The decision follows an announcement last month by the Harper government that it will reduce the number of federal meat inspectors in slaughterhouses and meat packers, and let the private firms and the provincial governments supply replacement meat inspectors.
The Conservative government says it will be a way to reduce paperwork and provide "more flexibility" to slaughterhouse operators. They have been asking for it for years, because sometimes cattle die on their way to the slaughterhouse and the meat can only be used for animal feed.
New Democrats are furious. They say that the decision invites a "contamination" of the food supply.
NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said Canadians will end up with "road kill on the plate."
Under current regulations animals must arrive alive at the slaughterhouse and be slaughtered on the spot after inspection.
Now cattle already dead when they arrive at the slaughterhouse can be cut, prepared, wrapped and shipped off for human consumption after inspection.
The fear is how and under what circumstances the animal died before they are shipped off to the meat packers.
The Harper government says that amendments to meat inspection regulations, as described in the Canada Gazette, will allow "greater flexibility" in the federally regulated slaughterhouses.
Meat packers are saying the new regulations will allow them to sell for human consumption meat perfectly safe meat that otherwise would have had to go into animal feed.
What's next ? Autopsies for dead cows before we eat them?
But so as not to frighten consumers, meat companies are not obliged to state on labels that the animal was dead before reaching the slaughterhouse. That might hurt their sales.