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I no longer know which way is up. Last week we went back to the Ministry of Health office, to double check that we had the correct information required to get our health permit. Maria talks to the inspector, and he tells her “No, no, no, you don't need all those documents. Just present the same documents as last year and I'll approve it.”
We were going to need an operations manual detailing our good manufacturing practices, and an on-staff food scientist to oversee our operations, among other ludicrous demands.
Then she went downtown this morning, to make another inquiry at the central Ministry of Health office. They told her, “Yes, you need all these documents and processes in place. We don't care how small you are, you have to comply with everything on this new list.” So we have no idea, when the moment of truth comes, if we'll really get our Health permit renewed or not. It appears that we'll be treated like a major food processor, whether we really are our not.
The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Nobody gives you the same answer twice. It's almost impossible to know if what you're doing is correct, and to know if you're complying properly with the operating regulations. Before, it was sometimes a bit murky and ambiguous, and you weren't quite sure if you were doing the right things. Now, it's nearly impossible to tell if anyone even knows what the hell they're talking about, and it's glaringly obvious that there is no coordination between any of the regulatory agencies.
Then, to get our municipal permit renewed, this year they were requesting, for the first time, a zoning permit. So our site had to be evaluated for land use, becaue the Ministry of Production had categorized us as “industry.” However, Maria went and contested this categorization because we are by no means an industry. After getting the buck passed through over three people, she finally was able to corner somebody (during his only available office hours from 2 to 4 pm), who was willing to accept reason and help us get the business recategorized.
Of course, this meant jumping through a bunch of hoops all over again; back to the Municipality after getting our first application for renewal of our license canceled, then resubmitting all over again with the new categorization.
We're now preparing what we can and waiting for the moment of truth.