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Notice to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) accredited Certification Bodies on when and how to verify compliance when on-site inspections are not possible

To: All regulated parties under Canada Organic Regime (COR)

Date: March 24, 2022

This notice provides guidance to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) accredited Certification Bodies (CBs) on when and how to conduct remote or hybrid inspections.

The CB decision to perform either an on-site, hybrid, or remote inspection should be in line with this CFIA notice. The notice also applies to unannounced inspections.

In normal situations the CBs should conduct full on-site inspections as per the COR Operating Manual requirements.

For a new applicant the initial on-site inspection is a fundamental requirement – a remote inspection cannot replace an initial on-site inspection. Initial inspections must be conducted completely on-site before certification is granted.

Under unique circumstances when on-site inspections for continuation of certification are not possible, the CBs shall fully document the justification for a decision to conduct a remote or hybrid inspection, taking into consideration all government restrictions including the regional/ provincial health authority restrictions within the region(s) involved.

When the CBs plan and conduct remote or hybrid inspections, they shall consider information and communication technology that offer the functions that they need (live video, recorded video with date and Global Positioning System stamp, file sharing, screen sharing, still pictures etc.). These need to be easily available to the operations and verification officers and offer confidentiality and security protections.

Remote inspections

The CFIA accredited CBs may conduct remote inspections for continuation of certification in emergency situations that make on-site inspection impossible due to health and safety reasons and/or imposed government restrictions.

As part of a remote inspection, information and communication technology shall be used to obtain evidence and to determine the extent of conformity to the certification criteria.

Hybrid inspections

As part of transitioning back to normal mode of operations, when the Covid related restrictions are lifted, CBs may consider conducting hybrid inspections as long as they achieve the same outcome as a full on-site inspection.

As part of a hybrid inspection:

Additionally, during the transition period fully remote inspections may be conducted only in the following cases:

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