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A better approach to meat inspection

A better approach to meat inspection

As the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) come into force on January 15, 2019, the CFIA is getting ready to use a flexible, effective and science-based approach to inspection that reflects inspector knowledge, experience and judgment, including in meat inspection.

The CFIA's existing Compliance Verification System (CVS) is being updated for the meat program so that inspectors can focus on areas of highest risk. This approach is designed to improve the Agency's ability to respond to current and emerging risks in federally registered meat slaughter and processing establishments across the country.

What is CVS

CVS is an efficient and uniform approach to check for compliance in meat slaughter and processing establishments through specific tasks done by CFIA staff when conducting inspections.

What's changing

Adjustments have been made to the number and frequency of tasks performed by inspectors so that they are better aligned with risk-based strategies. Inspectors will no longer duplicate efforts through other inspections or capture data that is already being captured in other systems. For example, certain sampling tasks were removed because data is already tracked by our Science Branch in the Laboratory Sample Tracking system.

"The updates provide more flexibility with daily time management of other inspection responsibilities. In many cases this update allows the inspectorate to schedule tasks around other requirements, such as daily presence and export/import responsibilities, with more ease," says CFIA's Tammy Coltsman, Food Processing Supervisor; Quality, Planning and Integration – Ontario.

What's not changing

Inspection oversight at an establishment remains unchanged. The industry is still required to put procedures in place to mitigate known risks and the CFIA will continue to enforce regulations.

Food safety requirements and outcomes are clearly established in regulations such as the requirement for industry to have Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans in place to mitigate food safety risks.

What's next

The CVS updates in meat are an important step towards aligning the meat inspection system with the outcome-based and risk-based approach of the SFCR. The new regulations require all food businesses that export, import or send food across provincial or territorial borders to have licences as well as preventive controls in place that anticipate potential risks to food safety.

The CFIA is a science-based regulatory agency that uses data to inform its decision-making. As the CVS updates continue to be implemented, evaluation and feedback will be collected from staff. Established key performance indicators will be used to measure overall performance of the project.

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