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Archived - Notice to industry: Anticipated fall 2021 import requirements for romaine lettuce from the United States (June 4, 2021)

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This notice is to provide the importers of fresh fruits and vegetables with an early indication of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) intent with regard to fall 2021 romaine lettuce imports from the U.S.

Leafy greens and particularly romaine lettuce grown in California during the fall continue to pose food safety concerns.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) have each announced plans to address the E. coli risk. The CFIA is in regular communication with both the FDA and the LGMA on the status of their plans. However, at this time, it is too early to know if the planned measures will be sufficient to mitigate the risk for the fall 2021 harvest.

Last year, between October 7 and December 31, 2020, the CFIA required importers of romaine lettuce and products containing romaine lettuce originating from the Salinas Valley in California to provide a certificate of analysis for each import shipment to demonstrate that the product did not contain a detectable level of E. coli O157:H7.

Until we receive more concrete evidence that the routes of contamination have been identified and are under control in the Salinas Valley, the CFIA's position is that similar measures to that implemented in the fall 2020 will be necessary to protect Canadians this coming fall.

The CFIA will continue to monitor the progress on the U.S. initiatives focused on leafy greens grown in California, including the pre-harvest and post-harvest testing initiatives from the FDA and the LGMA. The CFIA will update the Canadian fresh fruits and vegetables industry on the specific fall import requirements as further details become available over the summer.

No decision has been made yet regarding the specific measures the CFIA will require or how the CFIA will verify compliance. In addition to documentary requirements at the time of import, the CFIA could plan inspections of importers' records to verify that importers have incorporated the sampling and testing requirement as part of their preventive control plans and have records demonstrating that all imported romaine lettuce meets the requirements.

The CFIA would like to remind the industry, including the importers of leafy greens, that they must comply with all applicable requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations, namely the requirements for traceability and to have a preventive control plan that addresses the hazards associated with imported romaine lettuce.

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