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National Microbiological Monitoring Program and Food Safety Oversight Program Annual Report 2015-2016


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 federally registered 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.

In 2014, the Government of Canada introduced an initiative known as the Food Safety Oversight (FSO) Program to complement the NMMP by providing additional sampling and testing of commodities to specifically increase oversight on fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood and manufactured products. In the 2015/16 fiscal year some FSO samples were collected by CFIA inspectors, in the same manner as the NMMP samples, however, the majority of the FSO samples were collected at retail by contracted samplers.

The NMMP and FSO programs provide information to the Government of Canada on the safety of foods available to Canadians while verifying compliance of the food industry with safety practices and standards. 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 designing NMMP and FSO monitoring sampling plans.

Food products of the following commodities were tested under the NMMP and FSO programs in the 2015/16 fiscal year: red meat and poultry products, shell eggs and egg products, dairy products, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables and processed fruit and vegetable products. Food products within these commodities were selected for testing on the basis of known food-hazard combinations. Under the NMMP and FSO programs, environmental sampling was also performed at Canadian federally registered 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.

Product and environmental samples collected were sent to CFIA laboratories and tested to verify industry compliance with food microbiological safety and quality standards. All samples were subject to appropriate 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 2015/16 fiscal year, 13172 tests were performed on 6078 domestic and imported food products collected under the NMMP. Specifically, 9074 tests were performed on 3972 domestic products and 4098 tests were performed on 2106 imported products to verify compliance with food safety standards. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.8% compliant whereas imported products were 99.5% compliant. Overall, a 99.7% compliance rate was observed for combined domestic and imported products. In addition, there were 2196 tests performed on 1768 environmental samples, which were assessed as 98.1% compliant.

In 2015/16 fiscal year, 6033 tests were performed on 1778 domestic and imported food products collected under the FSO Program. Specifically, 2517 tests were performed on 715 domestic products and 3516 tests were performed on 1063 imported products. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.4% compliant whereas imported products were 99.9% compliant. Overall, a 99.7% compliance rate was observed for both domestic and imported products. In addition, there were 23 tests performed on 12 environmental samples under the FSO program, which were assessed as 91.7% compliant.

The results of the 2015/16 NMMP and FSO sampling activities indicated that the vast majority of food products available in Canada between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016 were compliant with food standards. The few noncompliant samples that were detected resulted in appropriate 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.

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