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Operational procedure: Fish grade verification

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1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff on standard commodity inspection procedures related to grade verification of fish to verify compliance to the Safe Food for Canadians Act and regulations (SFCA/R).

The guidance outlined below may be used when verifying compliance to the mandatory and optional fish grade standards to support import and export, to aid in the assessment of a Preventive Control (PC) related sub-element or for follow-up to a complaint.

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in Section 3.0.

2.0 Authorities

The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the above legislation are identified and explained in the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.

3.0 Reference Documents

4.0 Definitions

Definitions are located in the glossary documents listed below or as a defined word where it is intended to supersede the definitions within the glossary documents:

Advanced sexual maturity (Pacific salmon)
some signs of advanced sexual maturity in Pacific Salmon include: skin colour changes (red, brown or green tints), hooked nose, distinct back humping, thinning of belly walls, loss of colour or bleaching of the flesh, flesh softening and separation. (Maturité sexuelle avancée)
Bellyburn
this is the result of enzymatic spoilage of the belly cavity walls. It causes large areas of discolouration on the belly flaps and lining. In advanced stages, a breakdown of the belly wall can occur, resulting in the protrusion of guts and viscera from the round fish. (Ventre cuit)
Decomposed
fish that has an offensive or objectionable odour, flavour, colour, texture, or substance associated with spoilage. (Décomposé)
Dun
a fish showing an aggregate area of pronounced halophilic mould clusters on more than 1/3 of the total surface area of the face side. (Moisissure brune)
Physical damage (Pacific salmon)
Examples include: skin indentations, perforations, scars, punctures, scale loss, dehydration or freezer burn (in frozen fish), distortion or bending of the body during the freezing operation, oil migration (movement of fish oil to the surface glaze due to prolonged cold storage or storage at elevated cold storage temperatures. (Signe de deterioration)
Pink
any visible evidence of red halophilic (salt-loving) bacteria. This fish spoilage type can be detected by pink-coloured flesh and off odour. (Rose)
Rust
a condition on pickled fish characterized by the appearance of a reddish brown discoloration on the exterior surface. The colour resembles iron rust, and hence the common name "rust". Not only is the appearance of the fish spoiled by this semblance of rustiness, but the flavour of such fish is not so good, and they seem to deteriorate more rapidly than normal pickled fish. (Rouille)
Sunburn
it presents as a greasy textured area of tissue. It’s more evident from touch and handling the product. (Brûlé par le soleil)

Note: Refer to Appendix 2 for examples of defects.

5.0 Acronyms

Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.

6.0 Operational Procedure

This operational procedure provides inspection guidance specific to fish for which grades are established in the Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 8: Fish and the Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 9: Import Grade Requirements . Where more specific guidance is required than what is provided in the Standard inspection process (SIP), these will be indicated in this section.

Commodity inspection Operational Guidance (OG) refers the inspector to the SIP for basic guidance on the 4 inspection steps. If the commodity inspection is being conducted to support a preventive control inspection (PCI) currently underway, some or parts of the inspection steps will have already been completed.

6.1 Prepare for inspection

Refer to SIP, section 3, step 1. In addition to the general guidance provided in SIP, the following applies.

Table 1. Recording inspection data in Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP)
Trigger Pick 1 of the following triggers, as appropriate:
Preventive Control Inspection Plan
Commodity Inspection Plan
Incident Response
Export Permission
Import Permission
Inspection task type Commodity Inspection
Inspection level 1 task Perform test
Inspection level 2 task Grade verification

6.1.1 Prepare the toolkit

In addition to the list of equipment found in section 3.5 of the SIP, the following equipment is needed to complete the grade verification:

6.2 Conduct the inspection

Refer to SIP, section 4, step 2. In addition to the general guidance provided in the SIP, the following applies.

Note: Some grades described in the Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 8: Fish are optional, i.e. frozen gutted Pacific salmon. However if a grade appears on the product label, the product must meet the grade requirements.

6.2.1 Identify the lot

To identify the lot for grade verification see Appendix 1.

Note: All individual units of each selected container in the lot must be assessed against the grade standard. This will also apply when there is a count requirement in a container for instance Table of Size Designations of Pickled Fish by Count per 90.7 kg Barrel.

6.2.2 Grade verification

Refer to the Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 8: Fish and Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 9: Import Grade Requirements for grade verification details. Additional information for certain product types are found below.

A) Measurements

Atlantic Oyster measurements:
to ensure that Atlantic Oysters meet the grade requirements, the length and width of the shell must be taken using calipers to ensure accuracy. (Refer to Appendix 2)

Pacific Salmon, Atlantic Smelts, Pickled Fish Measurements:
when the grade identifies that the length of the fish must be measured, refer to Appendix 2 which demonstrate the length from the tip of the nose to the round of the tail (fork length). A ruler or tape measure can be used for this activity depending on the size of the fish.

B) Weight of Whitefish:

the grade of whitefish is related to the weight range of each individual fish within a container. Refer to Operational Procedure: Calibration procedures for common equipment used by the CFIA Inspectorate.

Note: This is not a net quantity verification of a prepackaged product. Each individual fish within a container must be weighed to ensure the grade is met.

C) Assessment of minimum product quality:

for guidance regarding assessing the acceptability of fish and seafood products as it relates to minimum product quality, see Organoleptic quality of fish and fish products. For explanation of certain defects found in grade standards, see definitions section of this guidance document and refer to Appendix 2.

6.2.3 Determine compliance

For the acceptance number to determine compliance of a lot, see Appendix 1. If a non-compliance is identified, refer to SIP section 4.5, SIP section 4.6 and the Guidelines on categorization and timeframes for correction of food labelling and advertising non compliances (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 9912657).

If the product does not meet the grade standard as declared on the label, control or enforcement action may be required. Refer to the Standard Regulatory Response Process and the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.

Any lot that is non-compliant for grade can be reworked as part of the corrective action measures taken by the regulated party.

6.2.4 Capturing notes related to commodity inspection in DSDP

For information on capturing notes relating to commodity inspections in DSDP, refer to SIP Appendix A section 5.4.1 and section 3.5.1 of the DSDP SOP INS- conducting an inspection (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 9839405).

In addition to capturing an accurate description (brand name, common name, net quantity, lot number) of the commodity inspected in the "Commodity Description" field in DSDP, enter the same commodity description in the "objective evidence" field along with the non-compliances found so that it appears on the final inspection report.

The worksheet for the verification of fish grades (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 14199036) is available and can be used as a tool to assist inspectors in verifying compliance of the grade. This worksheet should be saved as an RDIMS file and referenced in the "Notes" section of the document record of the inspection task record in DSDP. Upon request, the completed worksheet may be given to the licence holder.

6.3 Communicate the results

Refer to SIP, section 5, step 3.

6.4 Conduct follow-up

Refer to SIP, section 6, step 4.

For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF).

7.0 Appendices

7.1 Appendix 1: sampling plans for fish grade verificationFootnote 1

Selection of the appropriate Sampling Plan is dependent on the inspection trigger. Sampling Plan 1 is chosen for all triggers except "Incident Response" Sampling Plan 2 is used for an "Incident Response" trigger.

Sampling Plan 1a: net weight is equal to or less than 1 kg (2.2 lb)
Lot size (N) Sample size (n) Acceptance number Acceptance number for decomposition
4,800 or less 6 1 0
4,801 - 24,000 13 2 1
24,001 - 48,000 21 3 2
48,001 - 84,000 29 4 3
84,001 - 144,000 48 6 4
144,001 - 240,000 84 9 6
more than 240,000 126 13 9
Sampling Plan 1b: net weight is greater than 1 kg (2.2 lb) but not more than 4.5 kg (10 lb)
Lot size (N) Sample Size (n) Acceptance Number No. Acceptance Number for decomposition
2,400 or less 6 1 0
2,401 - 15,000 13 2 1
15,001 - 24,000 21 3 2
24,001 - 42,000 29 4 3
42,001 - 72,000 48 6 4
72,001 - 120,000 84 9 6
more than 120,000 126 13 9
Sampling Plan net weight is greater than 4.5 kg (10 lb)
Lot size (N) Samples Size (n) Acceptance number Acceptance number for decomposition
600 or less 6 1 0
601 - 2,000 13 2 1
2,001 - 7,200 21 3 2
7,201 - 15,000 29 4 3
15,001 - 24,000 48 6 4
24,001 - 42,000 84 9 6
more than 42,000 126 13 9
Sampling Plan 2a: net weight is equal to or less than 1 kg (2.2 lb)
Lot size (N) Sample size (n) Acceptance number Acceptance number for decomposition
4,800 or less 13 2 1
4,801 - 24,000 21 3 2
24,001 - 48,000 29 4 3
48,001 - 84,000 48 6 4
84,001 - 144,000 84 9 6
144,001 - 240,000 126 13 9
more than 240,000 200 19 13
Sampling Plan net weight is greater than 1 kg (2.2 lb) but not more than 4.5 kg (10 lb)
Lot size (N) Sample size (n) Acceptance number Acceptance number for decomposition
2,400 or less 13 2 1
2,401 - 15,000 21 3 2
15,001 - 24,000 29 4 3
24,001 - 42,000 48 6 4
42,001 - 72,000 84 9 6
72,001 - 120,000 126 13 9
more than 120,000 200 19 13
Sampling Plan net weight is greater than 4.5 kg (10 lb)
Lot size (N) Sample size (n) Acceptance number Acceptance number for decomposition
600 or less 13 2 1
601 - 2,000 21 3 2
2,001 - 7,200 29 4 3
7,201 - 15,000 48 6 4
15,001 - 24,000 84 9 6
24,001 - 42,000 126 13 9
more than 42,000 200 19 13

7.2 Appendix 2: defects and measurements

Refer to RDIMS #14577034 (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) for examples of defects and illustrations of how measurements are taken.

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