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The case of the disappearing food act

Inspectors and food producers alike seem to struggle to interpret regulations on food production.

“No one in the industry would say there’s a lack of regulation,” said Dave Shambrock, executive director of Food & Beverage Manitoba. Actually, there are many sets of overlapping regulations, he said.

In 2009, the NDP provincial government appeared to be trying to alleviate this. It wrote the Food Safety Act and launched multiple consultations on the act and its accompanying regulations, including dairy farm, abattoir and bulk milk transportation regulations, the Manitoba Co-operator reported in June 2014.

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“We’re trying to improve the focus on food safety without stopping innovation and flexibility,” said Jill Zacharias, then manager of food safety programs with MAFRD. “We’re not telling you how or which method you need to use. We’re saying whichever way you do it let us know how you’re going to do it, be able to prove that you do it, and be able to show that it is effective.”

A consultation document dated April 2014 lists things like a new food premise licensing requirements, requirements for processors to have a written food safety program, and a list of “restricted products.”

In the Co-operator article, Dave Shambrock, then Manitoba Food Processors Association executive director, said members of MFPA who’d seen the proposed regulations were generally satisfied with them.

However, a decade and a government change later, the province’s website lists the act as not yet proclaimed, and a departmental spokesperson confirmed while it has been passed by the Legislature, it is not yet in effect. Food and food handling continues to be governed under the Public Health Act.

About the author

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Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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