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National Microbiological Monitoring Program and Food Safety Oversight Program Annual Report 2016-2017


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.

The Food Safety Oversight (FSO) Program is another food surveillance program that was recently introduced to complement the NMMP by increasing CFIA's oversight over fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood and manufactured products. Some FSO samples were collected by CFIA inspectors but the majority 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 2016/17 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.

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 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 2016/17 fiscal year, 13383 tests were performed on 5258 food products collected under the NMMP. Specifically, 9068 tests were performed on 3878 domestic products and 4315 tests were performed on 1380 imported products. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.8% compliant whereas imported products were 98.8% compliant. Overall, a 99.5% compliance rate was observed for all products. In addition, there were 2128 tests performed on 1690 environmental samples, which were assessed as 97.9% compliant.

In 2016/17 fiscal year, 8104 tests were performed on 2389 food products collected under the FSO Program. Specifically, 2465 tests were performed on 761 domestic products; 5606 tests were performed on 1618 imported products; 6 tests were performed on 2 products made from domestic and imported components; and 27 tests were performed on 9 food products of unknown origin. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.9% compliant, imported products were 99.8% compliant, domestic/imported products were 100% compliant and food products of unknown origin were 100 % compliant.  Overall, a 99.8% compliance rate was observed for all products. In addition, there were 45 tests performed on 45 environmental samples under the FSO program, which were assessed as 97.9% compliant.

The results of the 2016/17 NMMP and FSO sampling activities indicated that the vast majority of food products available in Canada between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 were compliant with microbiological 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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