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Standard inspection process overview


The Standard inspection process (SIP) is for Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) staff. It was developed as guidance for a consistent approach across CFIA business lines, when determining regulatory compliance. CFIA is sharing this overview in the  interest of transparency. For terms and references that may be new to some readers, an acronyms and definitions section is in the full version of the SIP. Further information on inspection and regulatory compliance can be found in Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

Standard inspection process

The SIP is used for conducting inspections of regulated parties. The SIP uses a consistent method of verification processes across the 3 business lines (food, animal health and plant health) by following the integrated Agency Inspection Model (iAIM).

CFIA inspectors conduct inspections to verify compliance with regulatory requirements, and permission conditions, if applicable. The SIP describes the process for conducting inspections, based on the 4 basic inspection steps:

The 4 basic inspection steps

Step 1: Preparing for the inspection

  • a team is established
  • information is reviewed
  • scope of the inspection is determined

The regulated party is then contacted to confirm a date and time for inspection.

Step 2: Conducting the inspection

  • the inspection process is discussed at the opening meeting and the scope is confirmed
  • the inspection is conducted
    • any non-compliance is categorized and
    • timeframes for corrective action(s) is/are identified.

Enforcement occurs where appropriate, and further information is provided in the Standard Regulatory Response Procedure (SRRP).

Step 3: Communication of inspection results

The results are

  • communicated during the closing meeting, and
  • within the issued inspection report

Step 4: Follow-up inspections (as required)

  • the follow-up inspection is scheduled
  • the scope is determined
  • the follow-up inspection is conducted, and
  • the results are assessed and communicated

Inspection task types

The SIP outlines 3 types of inspection:

These 3 types of inspections all follow the 4 step inspection process.

Preventive control inspection

The preventive control inspection task is used for the evaluation of a regulated party's preventive controls to achieve compliance with regulatory requirements. This could include a regulated party's systems-based approach that focusses on prevention as a way to achieve regulatory compliance.

Commodity inspection

The commodity inspection task is used for the verification of a regulated party's product or thing against regulatory standards or requirements. It enables the analysis of a product or thing done by inspection staff, as compared to the sample collection inspection task which require inspection staff to submit samples to laboratories for analysis.

Sample collection

The sample collection task is used for planned and as required samples which are submitted to the lab for analysis. This may include samples required for:

  • national sampling plans
  • verification against regulatory standards or requirements
  • complaints and investigations
  • surveys and surveillance

Commodity specific guidance

The SIP refers inspectors to business line specific guidance which further describes guidance for preventive control inspections, commodity inspections and sample collection.

Categorization of non-compliance

The 3 categories of non-compliance are:

  • minimal
  • moderate
  • severe

Non-compliance(s), when identified, must be categorized in order to inform:

  • timeframes for regulated parties to complete permanent corrective actions
  • timeframes for CFIA follow-up inspections, whether the level of oversight needs adjustment

Regulated parties must address non-compliance.

Digital Service Delivery Platform

The Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP) is the tool that allows CFIA staff to record inspection information electronically. DSDP also facilitates communication with stakeholders. As the CFIA continues to enhance the DSDP, it will become the preferred channel for permission requests. Further information is provided in the Standard Permissions Procedure.