National Microbiological Monitoring Program and Food Safety Oversight Program Annual Report 2019-2020
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) develops and delivers programs and services designed to protect Canadians from preventable food safety hazards. The CFIA works to ensure that food safety emergencies are effectively managed, that the public is aware of and contributes to food safety, and that consumers and the marketplace are protected from unfair practices. Canada's food safety requirements apply equally to the domestic and imported food sectors.
The National Microbiological Monitoring Program (NMMP) is a food surveillance program managed by the CFIA to verify industry compliance with microbial standards, facilitate access of Canadian food products to international markets, provide information on the effectiveness of food safety control measures and interventions, and maintain consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply. Under the NMMP, a broad range of imported and domestic food products are sampled by CFIA inspectors. These food products are frequently sampled at federal licence holding establishments (i.e., those that produce food products that are exported or traded inter-provincially), which are inspected by CFIA inspectors, but samples may also be collected at other establishment types, such as warehouses, distribution centres, and wholesalers.
The Food Safety Oversight (FSO) Program is another food surveillance program that was introduced to complement the NMMP by increasing CFIA's oversight over fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood and manufactured foods. Some FSO samples are collected by CFIA inspectors but the majority are collected at retail by contracted samplers.
Food products of the following commodities were tested under the NMMP and FSO programs in the 2019/20 fiscal year: red meat and poultry products, egg products, dairy products, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, processed fruit and vegetable products, and manufactured foods. Food-hazard combinations deemed to pose the greatest potential health risks, recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, emerging food-hazard combinations and historical levels of compliance are taken into consideration when selecting foods for testing under NMMP and FSO monitoring sampling plans. Under the NMMP and FSO programs, environmental sampling was also performed at federal licence holding establishments to verify the producer's ability to control the presence of pathogens within the processing environment and confirm that food products are produced under sanitary conditions.
All product and environmental samples collected under the NMMP and FSO programs were tested at CFIA laboratories to verify industry compliance with food microbiological safety and quality standards. All samples were subject to follow-up actions by both industry and the CFIA. Such follow-up actions could include follow-up inspections, additional sampling, product disposal, corrective action requests, food safety investigations, product recalls, etc.
In the 2019/20 fiscal year, 11,234 tests were performed on 4,843 domestic and imported food products collected from under the NMMP to verify compliance with food safety standards. Specifically, 8,268 tests were performed on 3,837 domestic products and 2966 tests were performed on 1,006 imported products. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.2% satisfactory whereas imported products were 99.0% satisfactory. Overall, a 99.1% satisfactory rate was observed for combined domestic and imported products. In addition, there were 1941 tests performed on 1,608 environmental samples, which were assessed as 97.4% satisfactory.
In the 2019/20 fiscal year, 8,399 tests were performed on 2,736 domestic, imported, and unknown origin food products collected under the FSO Program to verify compliance with food safety standards. Specifically, 1,644 tests were performed on 589 domestic products; 6,706 tests were performed on 2,124 imported products; and 49 tests were performed on 23 food products of unknown origin. Results indicated that domestic products were 98.5% satisfactory, imported products were 99.6% satisfactory, and food products of unknown origin were 100% satisfactory. Overall, a 99.1% satisfactory rate was observed for domestic, imported, and unknown origin products. In addition, there were 52 tests performed on 52 environmental samples under the FSO program, which were assessed as 94.2% satisfactory.
The results of the 2019/20 NMMP and FSO sampling activities indicated that the vast majority of food products available in Canada between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 were compliant with food safety standards. The few non-compliant samples that were detected resulted in follow-up actions by the CFIA and industry. These actions allowed the CFIA to continue to safeguard Canada's food system and the health and well-being of Canadians.
Food safety is a collective responsibility of government, industry and consumers. All food producers/importers are responsible under Canadian law for the safety of the food they produce and distribute. In 2019/20, under the NMMP and FSO programs, the CFIA tested food and environmental samples to verify that they met their obligations. Follow-up actions taken by both industry and the CFIA acted to improve Canadian manufacturing processes and identify imported products that did not meet Canadian standards.
Detailed test results are available on the Open Government Portal.
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