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The Establishment-based Risk Assessment model for food establishments

In a world of changing risks, innovation and new technologies, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is adapting to be more efficient and responsive. Risk-informed decision making is at the core of the agency's everyday work.

The CFIA has been evolving the way we manage risk, to further support industry's ability to compete globally, and embracing technology to provide more efficient and responsive services.

The Establishment-based Risk Assessment model for food establishments (ERA-Food) is a tool developed by the CFIA to evaluate domestic food establishments based on the risk they represent to Canadian consumers. The ERA-Food model uses establishment-specific data and a mathematical algorithm to assess the food safety risks of food establishments under CFIA jurisdiction. It takes into consideration:

  • risks associated with a specific food commodity, operation or manufacturing process
  • mitigation strategies implemented by the industry to control their food safety risks
  • establishment compliance information

The ERA-Food model is used, along with other factors, to inform where CFIA inspectors should spend more or less time and inform program planning, in order to focus efforts on areas of highest risk.

How the Establishment-based Risk Assessment model for food establishments works

The ERA-Food model uses scientific data and establishment-specific information gathered from the Additional establishment information questionnaire provided to regulated parties in My CFIA in order to evaluate a facility and determine its level of risk. How often an inspection occurs will be guided by where a facility falls in the 7 categories of risk assigned by the ERA-Food model. Higher risk establishments will require more oversight while lower risk establishments will require less oversight.

Using collaboration and innovation

The ERA model for food establishments was developed by the CFIA in collaboration with experts from academia, industry and other government departments. The development of the model drew upon experience in other countries that have used a similar approach to risk assessment, and considered scientific literature along with leading edge modelling technology.

The ERA-Food model has already garnered attention on the international stage. Indeed, scientific journals dedicated to publishing the latest research on food safety and risk analysis such as Microbial Risk Analysis, Food Microbiology, Food Control and International Journal of Food Microbiology have published articles detailing the development steps of CFIA's ERA-Food model.

Additional resources