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Operational procedure: Organoleptic evaluation of imported meat products

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1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff on commodity inspection procedures related to the organoleptic inspection of meat products to determine compliance to subsection 8(1) of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR).

This procedure applies to imported meat products. However, the sampling plans and decision criteria are also applicable to the inspection of domestic meat and poultry products.

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in section 3.

The regulatory basis for the qualitative defects referenced in this guidance document is under review. Continue using the information in the appendices section for defects until further notice.

2.0 Authorities

The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the food legislations are identified and explained in the Operational guideline: Food regulatory response guidelines.

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:

Lot
For the purposes of this operational procedure, a collection of readily identifiable units of meat product which are processed and/or handled under uniform conditions. A lot is identified as an individual product line on an Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC).
Organoleptic inspection
Is a physical examination of a representative number of sample units (for example, cartons, carcasses, combo bins), drawn at the end of visual inspection, using the senses of touch, smell, sight to determine the wholesomeness and cleanliness of a meat product.
Prepared meat product
For the purposes of this operational procedure, means ground meat, finely textured meat (FTM), mechanically separated meat (MSM) and meat products that have been cooked or preserved or to which has been added any substance other than a meat product.
Sample unit
Is the individual container (box, carton, or combo) that is examined as a separate unit.
Sub-sample
Is a representative portion of the contents of the sample unit withdrawn for the purposes of the inspection.
Shipment
For the purposes of this operational procedure, a specific quantity of meat products imported by one importer on a single OMIC at the time of import.
Visual inspection
A visual inspection of the entire lot to assess the shipping containers for evidence of damaged or stained cartons, to detect objectionable odours, to verify outer labels, and a documentation review to establish a correlation between the shipment and the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) issued by the competent authority of the exporting country.

The following definitions are taken from the above mentioned references and are essential for the application of this guidance:

Cooked or fully cooked
Subjected to heat for a time sufficient to produce the characteristics of a cooked meat product in respect of friability, colour, texture and flavour [290 (2), SFCR].
Fresh
Means not preserved or cooked (Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat products (Interpretation))
Meat product

Means the carcass of a food animal, the blood of a food animal or a product or by-product of its carcass or any food that contains the blood of a food animal or a product or by-product of its carcass. It does not include:

  • gelatin, bone meal, collagen casing, hydrolyzed animal protein, monoglycerides, diglycerides or fatty acids; or
  • any food that contains a meat product in an insignificant quantity, having regard to the nature of the food and of the meat product. [SFCR, (Part 1 – Interpretation)]
Preserved
Means, in respect of an edible meat product, salted, pickled, dried, cured, smoked or treated by other similar means permitted by the Regulations, but does not include refrigerated or frozen (Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products (Interpretation))
Ready-to-eat
In respect of an edible meat product, means that it has been subjected to a treatment or process that is sufficient to inactivate vegetative pathogenic micro-organisms or their toxins and control spores of food-borne pathogenic bacteria so that the meat product does not require further preparing before consumption except washing or thawing or exposing it to sufficient heat to warm it without cooking it [SFCR, (Part 1 - Interpretation)]

5.0 Acronyms

Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the food business line acronyms list.

6.0 Operational procedure

Before imported meat shipments arrive in Canada, the importer or their broker presents all documentation required for import of meat into Canada to the National Import Service Centre (NISC). The NISC verifies the eligibility of the shipments, and the NISC officers review the required documents for validity and the necessary attestations.

Once a meat shipment is validated, the data on each shipment is either copied over from the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) into the Import Control Tracking System (ICTS) or is automatically transferred from Australia and New Zealand E - cert systems. The ICTS automatically verifies the validity of the certificate number, the shipping marks, and eligibility of the exporting country, slaughter, processing and exporting establishments.

The ICTS then generates an Import Inspection Report (IIR) for each shipment. The report is the record of the import transaction for tracking purposes and provides the importer with the inspection assigned to each lot in the shipment. Based on the data entered into the ICTS, the system automatically identifies the imported lot(s) as either a:

  • skip lot 1Footnote 1 (no product has been identified to be inspected)
  • full inspection (visual and organoleptic inspection), or
  • visual inspection

All lots of imported meat products, that are identified by the ICTS for inspection, must be immediately delivered by the licence holder who imports it, to an establishment where it must be stored and handled in its imported condition by a licence holder until an inspection is completed [SFCR 14(1)(i)].

Note: For the purposes of SFCR 14(1), foods set out in paragraphs 25(a) and (b) are not considered to be meat products. Therefore, if identified for inspection at the time of import, they are treated like all other foods. The importer is not required to deliver the product to an establishment where it must be stored and handled in its imported condition by a licence holder. They must keep the food at the first destination until the inspection is complete. Refer to the Understanding the meat product exceptions under section 25 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations for more information on section 25 exempt meat products.

Imported meat products identified by the ICTS for import inspection that were not presented to a CFIA inspector for inspection must be viewed as unlawfully imported. Refer to Operational procedure: Ordering removal or destruction of unlawful food imports for procedures on handling unlawful imports.

When a lot is identified for full inspection, the inspector will first conduct the visual inspection. This operational guidance outlines the procedures for organoleptic inspection of meat products. For procedures on visual inspection of meat products, refer to Operational procedure: Visual inspection of imported meat products.

If the ICTS has identified a lot for full inspection, refer to the appropriate national sample plans and guidelines, found on the CFIA sampling information page (accessible only on the Government of Canada network), to determine if samples for laboratory analysis are required to fulfill the requirement of annual work plans. Refer to Operational guideline: Food sample collection for further information.

For the purpose of product inspection, meat products are grouped into the following categories based on similarities of production, processing and product presentation:

Fresh and cooked meat products can be imported in combos, either chilled or frozen. Samples of all meat products for inspection must be able to be easily removed in a timely and sanitary manner from the combo without causing damage and/or compromising the safety of the product. If an inspector has concerns that inspection samples cannot be collected without damaging or compromising the product (for example, all of the meat products in a combo are completely frozen together), they can contact their area operations specialist for further guidance.

6.1 Prepare for the inspection

Before conducting an organoleptic inspection:

  • ensure the area for conducting the inspection task in the establishment is readily accessible, appropriately equipped, and appropriate in size [SFCR 68]
  • determine if any additional equipment is required for conducting an organoleptic inspection of the meat products (for example, meat import worksheet, inspection checklist, calculator, ruler, random number generator/table, gloves)

A meat import worksheet form is available in Appendix 1.

6.1.1 Tempering or thawing of meat products

Meat products may require tempering or thawing before inspection to properly assess the defects and condition of the product. The operator of the establishment where the product is inspected is responsible for developing and implementing proper procedures in their preventive control plan (PCP) for storing and handling edible meat products in their imported condition for the purpose of inspection. This would include procedures for tempering or thawing, when required, to minimize damaging or compromising the product.

Tempering may be required to remove surface frost in order to render the surface pliable so that the inspector can separate portions of the product (for example, pork ribs, pork hearts, whole pork ham, whole beef cuts, etc.).

Thawing may be required to separate pieces of meat products from each other without tearing or compromising the meat products (for example, chicken strips frozen together in a box, boneless chicken breast and thighs, trimmings, etc.). The inspector may also request that the product be thawed to verify that it is thoroughly cooked or to ensure there are no food safety or animal health concerns.

6.1.2 Sampling of meat products

When a lot of meat products is identified for full inspection (visual and organoleptic), conduct the visual inspection first and select samples for organoleptic inspection after the visual inspection is completed.

Conduct a label verification on all prepackaged product, including consumer prepackaged product (all categories), to ensure that the food product labels meet the requirements set out in the Safe Food for Canadians Act and its regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations. Refer to Operational procedure: Basic food label verification.

6.1.2.1 Sampling plans and selection of sample units
Sampling plans

Sampling plans for imported meat products are generated by ICTS based on the product categories above. To select sample units:

  • assign numbers to each carton in a lot according to the serial lot numbering method found in Appendix 4 of the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
  • use the IIR that is generated by ICTS to select the corresponding sample units for inspection
  • select only 1 subsample per box
  • when the product is in combo bins, there are 3 potential sampling sites; top, middle, bottom (see random sampling section below for more information)
Random sampling

In some instances, a copy of the IIR may not be available due to system issues or the sampling plan that is generated by the ICTS may not be appropriate for the product type.

For example, sample numbers generated by the ICTS for combos do not account for the concept of 3 sampling sites per bin. Another example is when the number of shipping containers is less than the amount stated on the OMIC (underage). The inspector may need to manually adjust the number of sampling units required for inspection.

When the ICTS generates an incorrect sampling plan or incorrect size of sample on the IIR:

  • use the sampling plan referenced for the category of meat product to be inspected
  • using the appropriate sampling plan, determine the corresponding sample size
  • select the sample unit numbers randomly
  • use an internet-based random number generating program or any other acceptable method to assign numbers randomly

Example: to determine the sample unit numbers for a lot of 320 cartons of frozen raw boneless beef weighing 27 kg each

  • use the Fresh red meat examination program, plan number 3 from Table 1: sampling plan and decision criteria (320 × 27 kg = 8640 kg)
  • using plan number 3, choose 9 random numbers between 1 and 320 (320 is the total number of cartons in the lot)
    • use these 9 randomly selected numbers as sample unit numbers
  • print the random numbers given by the randomizer and attach it to the file as confirmation that the numbers were randomly selected
Formulating a sampling plan for combos of meat products

For fresh poultry carcasses and cuts packaged in combos:

  • select a maximum of 13 combos to be randomly sampled
    • if there are fewer than 13 combos in the lot, sample all combos
  • collect a representative sub-sample corresponding to 5% of the combo's weight from each combo
    • collect the sub-sample from all levels of the combo: top, middle and bottom

For fresh meat products, other than poultry, and cooked meat products:

  • determine the number of sample units to be inspected
    • for fresh meat products other than poultry:
      • identify the number of combos in the lot and the total weight of combos using the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC)
      • determine the number of sample units to be examined using the appropriate sampling plan and decision criteria in the Fresh red meat examination program
    • for cooked meat products:
      • determine the number of combos in the lot and multiply by 3; this is the lot size
      • calculate the square root of the lot; this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • divide each combo into 3 potential sampling sites:
    • top
    • middle
    • bottom
  • multiply the number of sample sites (3) per combo by the quantity of combos received in the lot to determine the total number of potential sample sites
  • using an electronic number randomizer program or another acceptable method, select the quantity of random numbers within the range of potential sampling sites
  • print the random numbers given by the randomizer and attach them to the file as confirmation that the numbers were randomly selected
  • determine the area of combo where sub-sample units are to be taken using the table for determining area of combo for sampling plan in Appendix 2

Example: to determine the sample unit numbers for a lot of 20 combos of fresh boneless pork weighing 18069 kg in total:

  • use the fresh red meat examination program, plan number 4 from Table 1: sampling plan and decision criteria (18069 kg, the total weight of the lot)
  • multiply the 20 combos in the lot by the 3 sampling sites in each combo (top, middle, bottom), which results in 60 potential sample sites
  • use an electronic randomizer program to select 15 random numbers between 1 and 60 (15 sample units required as determined by the weight of lot in the Fresh red meat examination program and 60 potential sample sites is determined by 20 combos in lot multiplied by 3 sampling sites in each combo, top, middle, bottom)
  • refer to Appendix 2 – Table for determining area of combo for sampling plan for determining the actual sampling site (for example, random number 4 would be the top of combo 2, random number 11 would be the middle of combo 4)

Example: to determine the sample unit numbers for a lot of 18 combos of cooked diced chicken

  • multiply the 18 combos in the lot by 3 to obtain the lot size (18 combos x 3 = 54)
  • calculate the square root of the lot to determine the number of sample units to be inspected (√54 = 7 sample units to be inspected)
  • multiply the 18 combos in the lot by the 3 sampling sites in each combo (top, middle, bottom), which results in 54 potential sample sites
  • use an electronic randomizer program to select 7 random numbers between 1 and 54 (7 sample units are required as determined by the square root of the lot, and 54 potential sample sites are determined by 18 combos in lot multiplied by three sampling sites in each combo)
  • refer to  Appendix 2 – Table for determining area of combo for sampling plan for determining the actual sampling sites (for example, random number 18 would be the bottom of combo 6, random number 31 would be the top of combo 11)

Refer to the Operational guideline: Food sample collection for random sampling procedures.

6.2 Conduct the inspection

6.2.1 Fresh carcasses and cuts other than poultry (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, ratites) that are chilled or frozen, packed in boxes or combos

Sampling plans

This section applies to chilled or frozen, raw, single ingredient carcasses and cuts (for example, frozen raw lamb legs, raw boneless beef trimmings, etc.).

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR.

Random sampling

When the ICTS generates an incorrect sampling plan or size of sample unit on the IIR, refer to the procedures in section 6.1.2.1 - Sampling plans and selection of sample units above to determine random sample numbers using the appropriate sampling plan.

To generate a random sampling plan for combos of fresh carcasses and cuts other than poultry that are chilled or frozen, refer to the procedure for formulating a sampling plan for combos of meat products in section 6.1.2.1.

Inspection

In the case of fresh carcasses or cuts other than poultry (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, ratites) that are chilled or frozen, packed in boxes or combos:

  • use the IIR that ICTS generates to select the number of boxes and specific boxes for inspection
  • select a 5.5 kg sub-sample per sample unit
  • remove immediate retail packaging of product
  • refer to the Fresh red meat examination program for the sampling plan and decision criteria
    • for fresh boneless beef, mutton and ovine meat from countries not recognized by Canada as free of foot-and-mouth disease (Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina), consider the presence of visually identifiable lymph nodes or bone fragments as a critical defect due to animal health concerns, and reject the lot
  • use the step A in the sampling plan (some of the sampling plans indicate steps A and B) for initial sample selection, and determine if step B is needed based on inspection findings in step A

Inspect the required number of samples and apply the defect criteria in the Fresh red meat examination program appropriate to the meat product category.

If

Then

1 or more critical defects found

reject the lot

the number of major defects is less than or equal to the "Major accept" number

and

the total number of defects (minor alone or combination of major and minor) is less than or equal to the "Total (major and minor) accept" number

accept the lot

the number of major defects is greater than or equal to the "Major reject" number

or

the total number of defects (minor alone or combination of major and minor) is greater than or equal to the "Total (major and minor) reject" number

reject the lot

the number of major defects

or

the total number of defects (minor alone or combination of major and minor) falls between the "accept" and "reject" numbers

  • conduct a second inspection as per step B in the Fresh red meat examination program, add the total number of defects found in step A to total number of defects found in step B
  • use the decision criteria in the 'Total of A+B' line of the same plan in the Fresh red meat examination program to accept or reject the lot using the same steps as above

Note: Total defects are only used if the reject level for major defects has not been exceeded.

Example: Applying the defect criteria to a lot of beef trim weighing 9,999 kg packed in 10 kg boxes

Select sampling plan number 3 from Fresh red meat examination program. Choose 9 boxes (use the IIR to select the specific boxes for inspection) and collect a 5.5 kg sub-sample from each box.

Plan number Lot size
(kg)
Step Number of sample units selected and examined Number of defects found and action to be taken
Major accept Major reject Total (major and minor) accept Total (major and minor) reject
3 3630 to 10885 A 9 0 2 4 8
3 - B 3 - - - -
3 Total of A + B - 12 1 2 8 9

The inspection findings are as follows:

critical = 0 major = 1 minor = 3 total = 4

The lot cannot be accepted or rejected at this point since the number of major defects lies between 0 and 2. Follow Step B. Randomly select another 3 boxes and collect a 5.5 kg sub-sample from each box.

Secondary inspection findings are as follows:

critical = 0 major = 0 minor = 4 total = 4

Add these defects to those found at step A, giving totals as follows:

critical = 0 major = 1 minor = 7 total = 8

The number of major defects is 1, which is equal to the "Major accept" number

and

the total number of defects is 8, which is equal to the "Total (major and minor) accept" number.

Accept the lot.

6.2.2 Fresh poultry and rabbit carcasses and cuts that are chilled or frozen, packed in boxes or combos

Sampling plans

This section applies to chilled or frozen, raw, single ingredient poultry and rabbit carcasses and cuts (for example, raw chicken wings, raw rabbit carcasses, etc.).

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR.

Random sampling

When the ICTS generates an incorrect sampling plan or size of sample unit on the IIR for products packaged in boxes, refer to the procedures in section 6.5.2 Poultry carcasses or parts packaged in boxes or totes in the Poultry re-examination program.

To generate a random sampling plan for combos of fresh poultry and rabbit carcasses and cuts, refer to the procedure for formulating a sampling plan for combos of meat products in section 6.1.2.1.

Inspection

For fresh poultry or rabbit carcasses or cuts in boxes, collect a representative sub-sample consisting of at least 10% of each sample unit. Remove immediate retail packaging of product.

For fresh poultry or rabbit carcasses or cuts packaged in bulk combos, collect a representative sub-sample corresponding to 5% of the combo's weight from each combo selected. Collect the sub-sample from all levels of the combo: top, middle and bottom. Remove immediate retail packaging of product.

Use the description and classification of defects for poultry carcass and parts in the Poultry re- examination program to identify defective units.

  • use the acceptance (Ac) number corresponding to the level of the sampling plan selected, to determine the acceptability of the lot based on the number of defective sample units
  • if the number of defective sample units is less than or equal to the acceptance number, accept the lot; otherwise, reject the lot

6.2.3 Chilled or frozen edible parts (all species)

Sampling plans

This section applies to chilled or frozen edible parts (for example, hearts, livers, spleens, gizzards, etc.).

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR.

Random sampling

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS is found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

  • determine the lot size
  • calculate the square root of the quantity shipped; this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • randomly select the sample units using an internet-based random numbers program or random numbers table as described in the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
Inspection

Select a sub-sample representing 10% of the volume of the contents of the sample unit.

For chilled or frozen edible parts, refer to the preparation of edible parts section of Dressing procedures and preparation of edible parts for:

  • a description of how parts need to be prepared to be identified as edible, and
  • an interpretation of the requirements described in SFCR 125(2)

Inspect all sub-sample units to verify that no defects are present, namely pathological lesions (parasites, tumours, abscesses, etc.), workmanship, decomposition and contamination.

Acceptable criteria for edible parts:

  • they are not contaminated and blood clots, bone splinters, and extraneous matter have been removed [SFCR 125, 145, 146]
  • they do not consist in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal and have been manufactured under sanitary conditions [SFCR 8(1)]
  • they are edible and meet the preparation procedures described in Dressing procedures and preparation of edible parts [SFCR 125(2)]

6.2.4 Commercially sterile shelf stable meat products packed in hermetically sealed containers

Sampling plans

For commercially sterile shelf stable meat products packed in hermetically sealed containers, the IIR will identify the number of sample units to be selected from each lot of product for full inspection. Refer to the Visual examination of commercially sterile low-acid and acidified low-acid foods packed in hermetically sealed containers to determine the number of containers to inspect per sample unit.

Random sampling

When an IIR is not available, refer to the Visual examination of commercially sterile low-acid and acidified low-acid foods packed in hermetically sealed containers for the number of sample units and containers to be examined.

Inspection

Refer to the Operational procedure: Visual examination of container integrity for procedures on inspection of commercially sterile shelf stable meat products.

6.2.5 Boneless beef from countries not free of foot-and-mouth disease

6.2.5.1 Fresh and frozen

Refer to section 6.2.1, Fresh carcasses and cuts other than poultry (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, ratites) that are chilled or frozen, packed in boxes or combos.

To verify the certification statements on the OMIC for raw (fresh and frozen) boneless beef and mutton meat from countries not free of foot-and-mouth disease the inspector must verify that the product is boneless and free of all visible lymph nodes during organoleptic inspection. Consider the presence of visually identifiable lymph nodes or bone fragments as a critical defect due to animal health concerns, and reject the lot.

6.2.5.2 Cooked

To satisfy the requirements in Health of Animals Regulations (HAR), cooked boneless beef from countries not free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD):

  • must have a certification statement on the OMIC stating that the product has been heat-treated in a manner that would prevent the introduction into Canada of FMD [HAR 41(1) (c)], or
  • must be inspected by a CFIA inspector to verify that the beef has been thoroughly cooked [HAR 43 (c)]

For cooked boneless beef from Brazil, CFIA has negotiated with the Brazilian competent authority a heat treatment with a specified time and temperature to satisfy the requirements in the HAR. The OMIC must include a statement that the product meets this negotiated heat treatment. This certification requirement satisfies HAR 41 (1) (c), so a CFIA inspection to verify that the beef is thoroughly cooked ("pink juices" examination) to meet HAR 43 (c) is not required. Refer to section 6.2.6 Prepared meat products for the inspection of these products.

CFIA must verify that cooked boneless beef from Argentina and Uruguay has been thoroughly cooked, to satisfy the requirements of HAR 43 (c). The CFIA inspection must be performed at a facility that is located near a Canadian sea port and that is licensed for this activity (function code 9A on the list of federal meat establishments and their licensed operators). Verification of cooking must take place before the product can move inland. Refer to sections 6.2.5.3 Frozen boneless beef cooked in tubes and 6.2.5.4 Frozen diced boneless beef cooked in tubes for the inspection of these products.

6.2.5.3 Frozen boneless beef cooked in tubes
Sampling plans

This section applies to frozen boneless beef cooked in tubes, which includes whole pieces or ground beef cooked and shipped in a sealed flexible cooking tube.

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR generated by the ICTS.

Random sampling

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS and appearing on the IIR has been found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

  • determine the lot size
  • calculate the square root of the quantity shipped (for example, cartons, combosFootnote 2, etc.); this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • randomly select the sample unit numbers using an internet based randomizer program or a random table as explained in the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
Inspection

In the case of frozen boneless beef (chunks of beef) cooked in tubes and frozen boneless beef (ground before cooking) cooked in tubes:

  • cut out a piece of approximately 7.5 cm from the centre of each tube in the sample unit, in the frozen state
  • return the remainder of the cut tubes to the original cartons and keep frozen
  • completely thaw each 7.5 cm sub-sample piece by ambient air, on a separate white tray to identify the presence of pink juice
  • alternatively, protect the sub-samples individually with double plastic bags of sufficient thickness and thaw in running water
    • ensure the water temperature in the thawing tank is kept as low as possible to reduce the possibility of further cooking the samples
  • after the centre section of the sub-sample has been completely thawed, manually separate the pieces forming the sub-sample
  • squeeze small pieces onto a white impermeable tray and check for the presence of pink juices
    • if the pieces are too large to squeeze, make an incision to determine the internal colour and to reduce the size of the piece
  • examine the exudate collected in the white trays for colour during defrosting
  • perform a "pink juices" examination on every sub-sample of cooked beef, to verify that the product has been thoroughly and completely cooked

If pink juices are detected, this indicates that the beef from a country not free of foot-and-mouth disease is not thoroughly cooked. Immediately notify your supervisor and the CFIA regional or area animal health contact for further instructions, depending on the established communication protocol.

6.2.5.4 Frozen diced boneless beef cooked in tubes
Sampling plan

This section applies to meat products cooked in a sealed flexible cooking tube, removed from the tube, diced and imported in bulk shipping containers. Each carton must have a product batch code, which must correspond to the batch code indicated on the certificate.

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR generated by the ICTS.

Random sampling

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS has been found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

  • determine the lot size
  • calculate the square root of the quantity shipped (for example, cartons, combosFootnote 2, etc.)
    • this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • randomly select the sample unit numbers using an internet-based randomizer program or a random table as explained in the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
Inspection

In the case of individually quick frozen diced boneless beef cooked in tubes (diced after cooking):

  • thaw a sub-sample representing 10% of the volume of the sample unit in a white tray so that any exudate from the meat product may be examined
  • thaw or temper the entire sample unit to allow removal of the sub-sample for full inspection if the 10% sub-sample cannot be removed in the frozen state
  • visually examine the product for bones or bone fragments
    • the presence of bone or bone fragments in this product is considered to increase the risk of introduction of foot-and-mouth disease into the country 
  • perform a "pink juices" examination on every sub-sample of cooked beef to verify that the product has been thoroughly and completely cooked
  • squeeze each piece of defrosted sub-sample of individually frozen diced boneless beef cooked in tubes onto their corresponding white impermeable tray
  • check for the presence of pink juices, which indicates that the product is not thoroughly cooked
  • examine the exudate collected in the white trays during defrosting for colour indicative of not thoroughly cooked meat

If pink juices are detected, this indicates that the beef from a country not free of Foot-and-mouth disease is not thoroughly cooked. Immediately notify your supervisor and the CFIA regional or area animal health contact for further instructions, depending on the established communication protocol.

6.2.6 Prepared meat products

This section applies to prepared meat products, either consumer prepackaged or prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged. This section also applies to ready-to-eat meat products, as defined in the SFCR. It does not apply to meat products described in previous sections of this document.

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR.

6.2.6.1 Consumer prepackaged meat products
Sampling plans

This section applies to prepared meat products that are consumer prepackaged (for example, retail-ready packages of sliced bologna, consumer packages of uncooked bacon, packages of RTE beef burgers destined for retail). Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR generated by the ICTS.

Random sampling

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS is found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

  • determine the lot size
  • calculate the square root of the quantity shipped; this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • randomly select the sample units using an internet-based random numbers program or random numbers table as described in the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
Inspection

Select a sub-sample representing 10% of the number of consumer prepackaged units within each sample unit.

Conduct a label verification on the consumer prepackaged products to ensure that the food product labels meet the requirements set out in the Safe Food for Canadians Act and its regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations. Refer to Operational procedure: Basic food label verification.

Inspect the consumer prepackaged products to ensure appropriate handling occurred during transport within the range of the storage instructions and the integrity of packages has been maintained. The integrity of packaging means a lack of physical damage that could cause direct exposure of the meat products to environmental contamination. These types of meat products should not be removed from their immediate packaging unless there are signs the product may not be compliant with section 8 of the SFCR (for example, signs of temperature abuse, wet, stained, or damaged packages, off odours).

6.2.6.2 Prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged (bulk packed) meat products

Sampling plans

This section applies to bulk packed prepared meat products that are chilled or frozen (for example, bulk packed diced boneless chicken, cooked bacon bits destined for a commercial or industrial enterprise or institution, or bulk packed ready-to-eat chicken wings). Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR generated by the ICTS.

Random sampling

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS is found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

  • determine the lot size
  • calculate the square root of the quantity shipped (for example, cartons, combosFootnote 2, etc.); this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • randomly select the sample units using an internet based random numbers program or random numbers table as described in the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
Inspection

Select a sub-sample representing 10% of the volume of the contents of the sample unit. Temper frozen product to remove surface frost to render the surface pliable and to be able to separate individual portions for inspection.

If, when the product is tempered, the inspector has concerns about its wholesomeness or whether a product labelled as ready-to-eat (RTE) is not fully cooked, they may choose to defrost the sub-sample completely to inspect it more thoroughly.

Inspect the meat product specifically for contamination, extraneous material, off condition (for example, off odour, off colour, or slime), pathological lesions, and workmanship defects (for example, feathers, bones, and hair).

Acceptable criteria for bulk packed meat products:

  • the product is edible and does not contain contamination or extraneous material [SFCR 8(1), 125, 145, 146]
  • the product does not consist in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance and was manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged and labelled under sanitary conditions [SFCR 8(1)]

If the products do not meet the above criteria, reject the lot.

6.2.6.3 Shelf stable dry cured or fermented meat products
Sampling plans

This section applies to dry cured or fermented meat products that are shelf stable, such as Prosciutto, Parma hams, Serrano hams, and sausages.

Random sampling

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS is found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

  • determine the lot size
  • calculate the square root of the quantity shipped; this is the number of sample units to be inspected
  • randomly select the sample units using an internet-based random numbers program or random numbers table as described in the Operational guideline: Food sample collection
Inspection

Inspect the meat products specifically for contamination, extraneous material, off condition (for example, off odour, off colour, or slime), pathological lesions, and workmanship defects (for example, hair, bone splinters).

Acceptable criteria for Prosciutto, Parma hams, Serrano hams, sausages:

  • the product is edible and does not contain any contamination or extraneous material [SFCR 8(1), 125, 145, 146]
  • the product does not consist in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance and was manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged and labelled under sanitary conditions [SFCR 8(1)]

If the products do not meet the above criteria, reject the lot.

Note: The presence of mould on this type of product may be a result of the process. If mould is noted during the inspection, contact your area operations specialist or the Operational Guidance and Expertise (OGE) Division per established communication protocols for further guidance.

For bone-in products such as Prosciutto, Parma hams, Serrano hams suspected of under curing:

  • place a knife into the area of the aitch bone and the area of the stifle joint  (see Pork – Skeletal diagram)
  • after each insertion of the knife, quickly and carefully remove the knife from the product
  • carefully smell the knife for off odour indicative of under curing

Reject the lot if meat product is found under cured, or does not meet the acceptable criteria for shelf stable dry cured or fermented meat products mentioned above.

6.2.7 Canadian meat products returning

Import information for Canadian shipments of meat products returning to Canada (regardless of the reason for return) is not entered into ICTS. Therefore, no IIR or sampling plan is generated.

Before beginning the inspection of returned meat products, ensure the return was authorized according to the procedures outlined in the Operational procedure: Processing applications for the import (return) of edible meat products that were exported from Canada.

6.2.7.1 Voluntary returns

Determine the sampling plan and type of inspection required based on the reason for return.

Determine the number of sample units and defect criteria based on the product category as described above.

6.2.7.2 Shipments refused entry by foreign competent authority

When a meat product shipment is refused entry by a foreign competent authority (FCA) and reported as a port of entry violation (PoE) violation, follow up on the PoE using the Operational procedure: Point of entry violation of meat products reported by foreign competent authorities (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).

It is important to note that not all shipments refused by FCA are reported as a PoE violation.

If the FCA refuses the meat product due to:

  • problems with labelling or documentation, inspect using a square root sampling plan to ensure that the product has not deteriorated during transportation
  • food safety-related issues, inspect 100% of the returned product

For guidance related to non-compliant product, refer to the Operational procedure: Ordering removal or destruction of unlawful food imports.

6.2.8 Identify opened boxes

Once the inspection is completed:

  • mark the boxes of product that were opened for organoleptic inspection or for taking laboratory samples (CFIA/ACIA 0013 can be used for this purpose)
  • notify the operator of the boxes that were opened and the number of samples taken

6.3 Communicate the results

6.3.1 Inspection results – Canadian meat products returning

Record the inspection results for exported shipments of Canadian meat products returning to Canada on the CFIA form 2367. In the "Corrective action and remarks" section of the form, provide any relevant details such as:

  • any concerns found with the product and any corrective actions taken by the company
  • the disposition of any condemned product
  • the disposition of accepted product (for example, meets Canadian compositional/labelling requirements - product released to licence holder, meets export requirements – product re-exported)
  • export marks removed (to dissociate product from original export shipment)

Once complete, forward a copy of form CFIA 2367 to the operator and to the area operational specialist. This form allows traceability of the shipment of meat products and could be used during food safety investigations.

6.3.2 Inspection results – all other imported meat products

If any laboratory samples were taken as part of a national sampling plan, advise the importer so they may choose to hold the lots affected by the sampling pending the receipt of the laboratory results. If samples were taken as part of an intensified inspection due to a previous sampling non-compliance, advise the importer that they must hold the sampled lot(s) pending laboratory results.

Shipments found in compliance

For shipments found in compliance, the inspector will:

  • complete the "Inspected and released" box on the IIR
  • enter the inspection results in the ICTS Citrix; include any pertinent information about the inspection in the remarks section, for example, if any samples were taken
  • provide a signed copy of the IIR to the importer
  • release the shipment to the importer
Non-compliant shipments

Notify your supervisor and follow the established communication protocol in your region to notify the area operations specialist of all unsatisfactory import inspection results. The area operations specialist will advise the Food Import Export Division (FIED) of the International Affairs Branch (IAB). Unsatisfactory results for imported meat products will be entered in the ICTS to trigger intensified inspection of products from the foreign export establishment(s).

Follow the procedures in the Operational procedure: ordering removal or destruction of unlawful food imports to determine if an order to remove or destroy from Canada is appropriate.

For complete shipments ordered removed or destroyed

All original OMICs covering shipments ordered removed or destroyed must be stamped in red ink "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé". The inspector must record the date and their initials adjacent to the stamped impression.

The shipment's IIR must also be stamped in red ink "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé". The inspector must record the date and their initials adjacent to the stamped impression and will not complete the "Inspected and released" box on the IIR.

For partial lots ordered removed or destroyed

This refers to situations where only part of a lot is ordered removed or destroyed. If the import failure is limited to a clearly identifiable part of a lot covered by one certificate, the inspector may order only that part removed or destroyed. For example, in cases where only some of the shipping containers show transport damage or signs of temperature abuse, sorting and removal of the affected part of the lot may be considered. This option is not used for issues found related to food safety. The importer must request permission to sort the non-compliant lot and organize the removal of the non-compliant shipping containers from the lot. The importer must re-present the sorted, acceptable part of the lot for secondary inspection.

Indicate the number of cartons accepted and their net weight on the shipment's IIR. Similarly, the amounts ordered removed or destroyed must also be indicated on the IIR. When entering inspection results in ICTS, enter the number of non-compliant cartons and why they are being ordered removed or destroyed in the remarks section of the ICTS program only.

Complete the "Inspected and released" box on the IIR once the rest of the shipment has passed inspection.

For partial shipment ordered removed or destroyed

This refers to situations where 1 or more lots (product lines) identified on an OMIC are ordered removed or destroyed from among multiple other lots, which are accepted.

To verify compliance, an inspector may determine that a further inspection of the other lots in the shipment is required, regardless of the results of the inspection generated by the ICTS. Inspectors should consult with the area specialist before expanding the inspection scope to ensure a full inspection of the other lots is warranted.

Circle the entire product line(s) being ordered removed or destroyed on the OMIC in red ink. The text "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé" must be handwritten within the circle along with the date and the inspector's initials. The inspector should follow the same procedure for the corresponding Import Inspection Report (IIR).

The inspector must complete the "Inspected and released" box on the IIR once the rest of the shipment has passed inspection.

Stamping of shipping containers ordered removed or destroyed

When a lot or shipment of meat products from the U.S. has been ordered removed or destroyed for food safety-related issues, each non-compliant shipping container of the shipment must be stamped "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé".

  • the "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé" stamp must be applied on the main panel of the container without obliterating any information
    • If this is not feasible, the "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé" stamp should be applied on an adjacent panel
  • CFIA may delegate the stamping of boxes to the licence holder when appropriate documented control is in place and has been accepted by the inspector
  • the non-compliant meat products must be stored separately from any other product until proper disposition [SFCR 61 (b)]

When a lot or shipment of meat product from the U.S. has been ordered removed or destroyed for non food-safety related issues, the inspector may decide not to stamp the containers upon request from the importer.

When a shipment of meat products from any country is refused at the port of landing in Canada, and the shipment has not been unloaded, the stamping of the export certificate with the "refused" stamp will be sufficient, provided the original certificate is under CFIA control.

When a lot or shipment of meat products from countries other than the US has been unloaded and ordered removed or destroyed for any reason, each non-compliant shipping container must be stamped "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé".

For general inquiries related to this OG, follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF) (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).

7.0 Appendices

  1. Appendix 1 – Meat import worksheet
  2. Appendix 2 – Table for determining area of combo for sampling plan

Appendix 1 – Meat import worksheet

PDF (107 kb)

Meat import worksheet

Control No. __________

OMIC __________

Weight-Kg. __________

Date inspected __________

Subsample # Defects
Minor
Defects
Major
Defects
Critical
Comments
1 - - - -
2 - - - -
3 - - - -
4 - - - -
5 - - - -
6 - - - -
7 - - - -
8 - - - -
9 - - - -
10 - - - -
11 - - - -
12 - - - -
13 - - - -
14 - - - -
15 - - - -
16 - - - -
17 - - - -
18 - - - -
19 - - - -
20 - - - -
21 - - - -
22 - - - -
23 - - - -
24 - - - -
25 - - - -
Total defects - - - -
Accept - - - -
Resample - - - -
Reject - - - -
Inspector - - - -

Appendix 2 – Table for determining area of combo for sampling plan

Combo number

Sampling site – top, middle and bottom

1

1, 2, 3

2

4, 5, 6

3

7, 8, 9

4

10, 11, 12

5

13, 14, 15

6

16, 17, 18

7

19, 20, 21

8

22, 23, 24

9

25, 26, 27

10

28, 29, 30

11

31, 32, 33

12

34, 35, 36

13

37, 38, 39

14

40, 41, 42

15

43, 44, 45

16

46, 47, 48

17

49, 50, 51

18

52, 53, 54

19

55, 56, 57

20

58, 59, 60

21

61, 62, 63

22

64, 65,66

23

67, 68, 69

24

70, 71, 72

25

73, 74, 75