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Policy on the Approval of External Laboratories for the National Aquatic Animal Health Program

On this page

  1. Scope
  2. Purpose
  3. Authority
  4. Context
  5. Abbreviations and definitions
  6. Policy
  7. Roles and responsibilities
  8. References and resources

1. Scope

This policy applies to all external (non-federal) laboratories performing testing on behalf of Canada's National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP).

2. Purpose

This policy outlines the requirements that an external laboratory must meet in order to be approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to perform testing of aquatic animal samples for export certification or any other activity in support of the NAAHP.

3. Authority

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act gives the CFIA the authority to enter into arrangements with other government departments in Canada and other organizations in order to carry out its responsibilities under the Acts and Regulations that it administers, including arrangements related to the provision of laboratory services and accreditation of laboratories.

The authority to approve laboratories for the purposes of the NAAHP resides in sections 29 and 30 of the Health of Animals Act:

29. The Minister may operate, provide or approve any diagnostic, research, laboratory or other services or facilities required for the purposes of this Act or any regulations.

30. The Minister may designate areas, offices, laboratories or other facilities inside or outside Canada for a specified purpose or generally for the administration of the Act or the regulations and may at any time amend, cancel or reinstate any such designation.

The Minister has delegated this authority to the Executive Director, Animal Health Science Directorate, Science Branch.

The authority to enter into agreements resides in section 34 of the Health of Animals Act:

34. For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may enter into an agreement with any qualified person to perform such duties or functions as the Minister may specify, on such terms and conditions as the Minister may specify.

4. Context

Under the NAAHP, samples and specimens are collected for testing to prevent the introduction or spread of significant aquatic animal diseases and to facilitate market access. Tests results are used by the CFIA to make decisions about the: issuance of health certificates for export; required disease response activities associated with a notification of suspicion or detection of disease in aquatic animal populations; removal of a post-embarkation import quarantine; mapping of disease risk zones in Canada; issuance of domestic movement permits; and approval of compartments for domestic and international trade.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the CFIA and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), DFO provides diagnostic laboratory testing services for the CFIA. These testing services are delivered by the National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System (NAAHLS).

In order to provide additional surge capacity for both routine testing for domestic and international trade and large-scale disease response testing activities, laboratories other than DFO laboratories may be approved by CFIA to perform testing in support of the NAAHP. These laboratories must meet the requirements outlined in this document in order for the CFIA to have confidence in both the test results and the ability of the laboratories to contain aquatic animal diseases.

These requirements are consistent with those outlined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Consistency with the OIE is necessary to facilitate market access for Canadian aquatic animals and products derived from aquatic animals.

5. Abbreviations and definitions

Animal Health Directorate
Animal Health Science Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Executive Director
National Aquatic Animal Health Program
National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System
Programs and Policy Branch
World Organisation for Animal Health
procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks (ISO/IEC Guide 58).
Accrediting body (AB)
an authoritative body that performs accreditation (ISO/IEC 17011:2004).
Aquatic animal
means any finfish, mollusc or crustacean, or any part of a finfish, mollusc or crustacean at any life stage, as well as any germplasm of those animals (Health of Animals Regulations).
Designated analyst
an individual designated by the CFIA under section 13(3) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act to perform testing for federally reportable diseases in support of the NAAHP
CFIA approved laboratory
an external laboratory that meets the criteria outlined in section 6.0.
Reportable disease
disease prescribed as a reportable disease by the Minister, pursuant to subsection 2(2) of the Health of Animals Act, and listed in the Schedule of the Reportable Diseases Regulations.
External laboratory
for the purpose of this document, a laboratory that is not operated by the CFIA or the DFO.
Performance standards
parameters defined by the NAAHLS for the acceptance of test results based on the use of the test according to a defined Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
any word or expression that is descriptive of a person, and includes a corporation. Corporation does not include a partnership that is considered to be a separate legal entity under provincial law (Interpretation Act).
Proficiency testing (PT)
evaluation of participant performance against pre-established criteria by means of inter-laboratory comparisons (ISO/IEC 17043: 2010). Results are used to certify analysts to carry out specific tests and monitor ongoing performance of laboratories and individual analysts for these tests.

6. Policy

Laboratories seeking approval to perform diagnostic testing on behalf of the NAAHP must meet the following requirements:

Approval of a laboratory is on a per-test basis, and laboratories may seek approval for multiple tests at the same time. A laboratory approved by the CFIA will enter into an agreement with the CFIA to provide service for the NAAHP.

The requirement for accreditation of external laboratories to the ISO/IEC 17025 Standard for testing in support of the NAAHP is consistent with the approach outlined in the CFIA Framework for Quality Management Oversight of Laboratories Conducting Testing in Areas under the CFIA Mandate, and CFIA's Policy on the Use of External Laboratories for Export Testing.

7. Roles and responsibilities

7.1 Accrediting body

7.2 External laboratory

7.3 Fisheries and Oceans Canada – NAAHLS

7.4 Canadian Food Inspection Agency

7.4.1 Animal Health Directorate (AHD)

7.4.2 Office of Biohazard Containment and Safety

7.4.3 Science Branch – National Headquarters

7.4.4 Executive Director, Animal Health Science Directorate (ED, AHSD)

8. References and resources

CFIA Framework for Quality Management Oversight of Laboratories Conducting Testing in Areas Under the CFIA Mandate (available on the CFIA external website)

Policy on the Use of External Laboratories for Export Testing (available on the CFIA external website)

Containment Standards for Facilities Handling Aquatic Animal Pathogens (available on the CFIA external website).

Delegation of Ministerial Authorities Within CFIA Program Legislation (RDIMS #3182849).

Health of Animals Act (available on the Department of Justice website).

OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (available on the OIE website).

OIE Quality Standard and Guidelines for Veterinary Laboratories: Infectious Diseases, 2nd Edition, 2008 (available from the OIE).

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