When are government officials acting in the public interest and when are they just trying to justify their own positions?
It’s difficult to tell sometimes.
Case in point: a Minden Hills small business owner getting fined nearly $1,000 over five salamis.
Yes, you read that correctly.
As reported in this publication last week, a local meat smoker was fined $875 for, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, creating product that was not approved for inspection.
During July of last year, some salami was put “under detention” - gotta love the food detective lingo – and an OMAFRA inspector told the business owner the ministry would return at a certain date.
The salamis in question were half finished.
When the inspector did not return, the business owner smoked the salamis since he needed to finish the process in order for the product to not get ruined.
When the OMAFRA inspector – who was not able to recall for the newspaper whether a specific return date had been arranged – returned to find the detained salamis had been smoked, a fine was issued.
On why the salami was detained in the first place, the business owner says he was told by ministry representatives that they had to check his recipes.
What are these people going to do next? Show up at a KFC and demand to know the Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices?
Look, food safety is important, no one is questioning that, but it seems, in the case of the detained salamis and resulting fine, that perhaps the situation was seasoned with overzealousness.
In fact, since smoking, curing and dehydrating meat are ministry-regulated processes requiring adherence to rigorous legislation, inspections and mounds of paperwork, the business owner has decided to just give up his licence all together. He will continue to sell meat products, but will not produce any of them himself.
Again, when it comes to discerning whether officials are actually acting in the best interest of the public or just trying to justify their own paycheques, things get a little . . . well, smoky.