Recall that Manitoba is the province where you can't sell a potato without, well, hassles.*
Now, read this one and weep. Since I was a kid in Manitoba, the government made much fuss about agricultural diversification, wanting farmers to move to more processing and oddball thin-market crops.
The Cavers at Harborside Farms are a great example of how this can be done well. They raise Berkshire hogs outside of Pilot Mound, a small town a couple hours southwest of Winnipeg. They started curing hams following old Italian recipes. Bartley Kives reports:
So, was anything wrong with their cured meats? No. Absolutely nothing. But they didn't follow the approved process. Why? Because there wasn't one. They were following traditional processes, the food was safe, and they'd asked the government for advice on making sure they were also compliant with any process specs that the government might wish to impose.
Were the Cavers selling unfit food? No. An informed correspondent tells me that Manitoba Health has no adopted procedures as yet for dry cured meats. The Cavers tried proving that their product was safe, by various bacteria, moisture, and pH tests at the Portage Food Lab. But there's no standard that the government could point to showing whether it was good enough.
Because Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) does not have Manitoba Health standards against which they can judge things, they just took all of the Cavers' stuff. Even if the Cavers perfectly followed all of the Italian standards, they're still in violation of Manitoba law. Because they're not following Manitoba standards. Because nobody has written any Manitoba standards.
A rational province would, where no official provincial standard exists, simply adopt an existing proven standard from an outside trusted source and verify that a Manitoba producer's practices meet that standard. Alternatively, perhaps somebody in Manitoba should start trying to get approval to sell chocolate-coated cotton.
There's a petition up here wishing that the Manitoba government be sensible. I hope it's successful.