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Operational Procedure: Return (import) of exported meat products from the United States, pending the results of US laboratory analysis

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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 how to verify an operator's control of fresh meat product exported to the United States (US) and returned to Canada, pending receipt of test results from US laboratories.

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in section 3.0

2.0 Authorities

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

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:

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

Fresh meat products exported to the US may be randomly sampled by the United States Food Safety Inspection Services (US/FSIS) for analysis such as for microbiology, chemical residues, pesticides, or species. There is a potential for product to spoil while awaiting the test results. The CFIA has negotiated with the US/FSIS a test and hold policy to allow for greater flexibility with respect to the options to maintain fresh meat products that are awaiting results of the US laboratory analysis.

The policy enables an exporter to request that a lot of fresh meat product randomly sampled in the US be returned to Canada pending receipt of the laboratory results provided that CFIA maintains official control of the product.

CFIA has agreed to permit Canadian exporters the flexibility to store, freeze or process and hold the product, providing it remains under the Canadian licensed operator's control and providing lots are not split and shipped to multiple facilities.

6.1 Requirements

To return meat products sampled by the FSIS for laboratory analysis, the conditions below must be met:

  • limited to refrigerated not frozen meat products that are packaged in a manner that will compromise the quality or safety of the product if held in the USA while in storage awaiting FSIS laboratory results (for example open combos, not vacuum packed)
  • The operator and the receiving establishment have written procedures in their Preventative Control Plans (PCP) to maintain product quality and safety, to prevent distribution of the product while the product is held pending FSIS test results, and to maintain traceability of product.
  • The operator and the receiving establishment controls have been reviewed by the CFIA and found acceptable by the inspector.
  • The shipment is not divided into sub-lots, is not split, or shipped to multiple plants until acceptable laboratory results have been received.
  • The requirements as outlined in the Operational procedure: Processing applications for the import (return) of edible meat products that were exported from Canada are met.

If the operator or the secondary establishment storing/processing the product wishes to amend the written procedures in their PCP related to control of meat, the CFIA must examine and determine that the new written procedures are acceptable before they can be implemented.

6.2 Verification

When the shipment of meat product that was sampled by FSIS is returning and arrives in Canada, it must be immediately delivered to an establishment where it is stored and handled in its imported condition by a license holder for CFIA inspection (SFCR 22(1)(b).The inspector at the establishment performs the USA sampled returned product controls verification task, upon return of the product. Refer to Annex 2: Export food-implementation verification tasks.

6.3 Receipt of results

When the FSIS laboratory results are provided by the importer/owner of the product, the inspector completes the form CFIA/ACIA 2367 (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) "Exported Shipments of Canadian Meat Products Returned to Canada".

If Then
The FSIS laboratory results are satisfactory
  • Release the shipment
  • Re-certify for export if requested
The FSIS laboratory results are unsatisfactory