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Archived - Notice to industry: Update on the fall 2021 import requirements for romaine lettuce from the United States (July 23, 2021)

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This message is an update to importers of fresh fruits and vegetables on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) plans with regard to romaine lettuce imports from the U.S. during the fall of 2021.

Further to the previous communication distributed through MyCFIA on June 4, 2021, the CFIA is confirming that a comprehensive sampling and testing requirement will be re-instated this year. The requirement will take the form of a licence condition which will be in effect from September 30 to December 31, 2021. Over the coming weeks, each person or business holding an SFC licence to import fresh fruits and vegetables will receive a message through MyCFIA with the detailed licence condition. Similar to last year, the comprehensive sampling and testing requirement will apply to romaine lettuce originating from the Salinas Valley of California, as well as salad mixes containing such lettuce. A proof of origin will be required for products originating from other areas of the U.S.

The CFIA strongly supports the actions taken so far by the U.S. government and the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (California LGMA) to further address the E. coli risk, and commends the significant efforts made by both organizations. The import condition is to further protect Canadians, recognizing that the U.S. is still actively working towards identifying the routes of contamination and implementing controls.

Sampling and testing of romaine lettuce after all post processing and handling steps are completed will continue to be a means to comply with the Canadian requirement. However, this year, we hope to be able to offer the option of pre-harvest sampling and testing performed under the California-LGMA scheme as another means to comply. We will inform the industry of the CFIA's decision as soon as the analysis of this option is completed.

The CFIA's regulatory and compliance approach under the Safe Food for Canadians Act will include the following elements (importers include Canadian importers and non-resident importers):

The details of the licence condition and other accompanying guidance will be communicated to each licence holder via the MyCFIA portal well in advance of the September 30, 2021 implementation date for the licence condition.

For guidance on the PCP and traceability requirements under the SFCR, refer to Regulatory requirements: Preventive control plan, Regulatory requirements: Traceability and Importer guide: prepare your preventive control plan.

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