Notice to Industry: Update to Listeria monocytogenes in imported Enoki mushrooms

December 6, 2022

Imported fresh enoki mushrooms have recently been the subject of numerous food recalls due to possible Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) contamination. When these mushrooms are consumed raw or undercooked, consumers are at increased risk of becoming sick.

Food contaminated with L. monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause illness. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

Obligations of the Importer

As a licensed importer, you are responsible for ensuring the food you import is safe and that it meets Canadian requirements. You are required to source from foreign suppliers who are manufacturing, preparing, storing, packaging, and labelling the food under the conditions that provide the same level of protection as those outlined in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). You are also required to have a written preventive control plan (PCP) unless your gross annual sales are $100,000 or less. If you do not need a written PCP, you still need to comply with the preventive control requirements. Guidance on these regulatory requirements can be found in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Regulatory requirements: Preventive controls.

If you are importing fresh enoki mushrooms, your PCP should identify L. monocytogenes as a food safety hazard to be controlled. This may include verification procedures to ensure your foreign supplier has preventive controls in place to effectively address L. monocytogenes. You will also need to keep clear and complete traceability records that show who the food was obtained from and to whom it was sent. See the additional information section below for guidance to help food businesses understand how to establish control measures to prevent or eliminate L. monocytogenes contamination.

For assistance in developing, implementing and maintaining your preventive control plan, the CFIA has developed the Importer guide: prepare your preventive control plan (PCP).

In the event of a food safety concern, the CFIA will take action to protect consumers. This may include recalling, seizing, or detaining food products. The holder of the Safe Food for Canadians licence must comply with all the conditions of the SFCR. Failure to comply with all the conditions may result in the suspension or cancellation of your licence.

HS-OGD extension

In August 2022, the CFIA implemented new HS-OGD extensions specific to fresh enoki mushrooms. Importers are required to use the appropriate code on their import declaration for all fresh enoki mushrooms imported into Canada.

Failure to properly declare incoming goods may result in the incoming product(s) being detained, seized, and/or refused entry into Canada. Importers who improperly declare goods could have their Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence suspended or cancelled.

For HS-OGD codes, visit our website at Automated Import Reference System (AIRS): Import Requirements (inspection.gc.ca).

AIRS is designed to:

  • Allow users to search for import requirements by commodity name, description, or the first 6 digits of the HS code
  • Identify import requirements for CFIA commodities
  • Display "documentation and/or registration requirements" (permits, certificates, licenses etc.) and information regarding the release procedures for CFIA commodities

Additional information

Questions

Visit our updated Toolkit for food businesses and try using our new virtual assistant tool to access more information. If you are unable to find answers to your questions, you can contact the CFIA online.

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