A quick fyi before I start rambling about the horror story of all the inspectors.
First of all I have had a bad week and I'm having trouble sitting here to write this so it might be short and sweet this week.
Secondly, I should tell you that they were all wonderfully nice people just trying to do a difficult job. They understood the crazyness of their mandate but were powerless to do anything but enforce it as much as possible.
THE QUALITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM _ QMP
ADDENDUMS _ CONSTANT CHANGES
FISH PROCESSING GUIDE
ANOTHER QMP ADDENDUM
FISH PREOCESSING ADDENDUM
ANOTHER FISH PROCESSING ADDENDUM
Just looking at the above links gives me reason to pause and reflect on my decision to have ever taken this on. I must have been insane but really it was just pure naivety. The above links are the manuals and compliance that I was expected to know and follow but let me start at the beginning.
In October 2011 a lovely and unassuming man walked into our little store front on O'Connor Dr and began looking around. When I denied him access to the smoker, he announced that he was an Inspector from the Provincial government and that I will now be inspected by his department and the CFIA on top of the annual city inspectors. My first inspection would be in a month and I was to print out the above and read it by then, Three four inch binders later I had my manuals printed and i began to read. I began my first panic attack as every page I read meant new work for me.
A good example of this would be that ever piece of equipment and shelving and cleaning equipment had to now come with a CFIA certificate from the company of origin and I had to maintain a binder of these certs. If any of our things did not have a cert, i was to throw it out and purchase new ones from the CFIA approved list. To add to this insanity, the CFIA did not recommend companies just products so I had to search high and low sometimes for the requirements that were always guaranteed to be at a higher cost.
I read them all and even changed things around at the store to meet the compliance that i felt were for our little store and ignored the need of daily meetings and locked separate room for all cleaning supplies that I felt was for larger factories. Coming from the construction industry, we have health and safety compliance to deal with but they are intelligently set up so that as a company grows, so does the compliance needs. The fish processing inspectors did not agree.
My first meeting with our new provincial inspector did not go so well as my arguments were falling on deaf ears and I was told that i had three months to get it done!!!! A week after the meeting I was sent a seven page inspection notice of non compliance and that a CFIA inspector would be joining the provincial inspector in three months for my next visit. TO be in compliance , I had to designate an employee to be the full time QMP manager and to handle the all day visits from these inspectors. As a result of being a one man operation, I had to do all this new work and shut down the store for the day of inspections.
So three months later, it was the CFIA's turn at me and wow i still get upset when I think about that day. Due to the "new " fish processing program that they were developing I was too meet with the head of this new department, a veterinarian, and two eagar to please her inspectors, as well as my Provincial!! I stood one one side of my counter and they all stood on the other side firing questions and demanding answers for 6 hours.
I left that day feeling bullied and intimidated. They demanded changes to our labels, the layout of the store, the employee washroom be vent outside(that was in the basement!),a ceiling in the basement and wall that have no seams and can be hosed down. All costing more money and time then I had. I had to decide again if this was worth it and my youngest of customers made that simple for me. I had so many young children that would come running for their smokin salmon the smile and hugs made it worth while, at least at the time.
For the next four years I tried in vain to meet all the compliances and I did manage to get the inspectors report down to two pages long of deficiencies and these were deficiencies that would never be resolved in our little store due to lack of building! I would never have a level enclosed receiving dock at that location and so it continued to be on the deficiencies and always would.
In the end, it was just too much work as the compliances would change and i was writing charts day and night. It was too much money in that I had to pay more for everything now, even paper towels and it took longer to do everything so i paid more for labour to be in compliance. It was too much stress as the inspectors came every three months to shut us down for the day and swab test everything, including the wheels on our tables and the floor and ceiling tiles. We passed every swab test but i cursed having to clean the stairwell, the basement, the ceiling and those wheels every time.
I agree fully in the need to be clean especially when dealing with meat, chicken or fish but this was over kill for our little operation. I can see it would be needed if we were using big machines and had fish guts and scales flying everywhere but we brought in fish that was already cleaned at a federal processor!!!!!
I am glad to be out from their watchful eyes and i wish to never see another QMP in my lifetime. I got great joy in burning all the binders and charts that I had to keep and have on hand to show at any time. I pray for all the new fish stores and smoke house out there as they do not know what is coming. The new fish department is actively going to be visiting all soon as that is their mandate. Truly fresh fish is already very hard to find and these is not going to make it better. We will all have to by "frozen on the boat" fish and process it ourselves to guarantee fresh soon.
Oh by the way, the city inspector became a joke. I would just throw all my charts and binders at her from the other inspectors and she would sit to have a tea with me as there was really nothing for her to inspect other than that i was inspected.
Next week I am coming to the end of our story and I will talk about our final move to Chapman's Essential Foods.