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Operational procedure: Organoleptic evaluation of imported meat products

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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 procedures related to the organoleptic evaluation of meat products to determine compliance to [SFCR s. 8(1)].

This procedure applies to imported meat products. However, the sampling plans and decision criteria are also applicable to evaluation of domestic meat and poultry products.

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

The regulatory basis for the qualitative defects referenced in this guidance document is under review. Continue using the information in the Appendices section for defects until further notice.

2.0 Authorities

The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the food legislations are identified and explained in the Operational guideline: Food regulatory response guidelines.

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:

Organoleptic Inspection

Is a physical examination of a representative number of sample units (for example, cartons, carcasses, combo bins), drawn at the end of visual inspection, using the senses of touch, smell, sight to determine the wholesomeness and cleanliness of a meat product.

Visual Inspection

A visual scan of the entire lot to assess the shipping containers for evidence of damaged or stained cartons, to detect objectionable odors, to verify outer labels, and to establish a correlation between the shipment and the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) issued by the competent authority of the exporting country.

5.0 Acronyms

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

6.0 Operational procedure

Before imported meat shipments arrive in Canada, the importer or their broker presents all documentations required for import of meat into Canada to the National Import Service Centre (NISC). NISC verifies the eligibility of the shipments and the NISC officials review the required documents for validity and the necessary attestations.

Once a meat shipment is validated, the data on each shipment is either entered manually into the Import Control Tracking System (ICTS) or is automatically transferred from Australia and New Zealand E-cert systems. The ICTS automatically verifies validity of the certificate number, the shipping marks, and eligibility of the exporting country, slaughter, processing and exporting establishments.

The ICTS then generates an Import Inspection Report (IIR) for each shipment. The report is the record of the import transaction for tracking purposes and provides the importer with the inspection assigned to the shipment. Based on the data entered into the ICTS, the system automatically identifies the imported meat shipment as either a:

All lots (product lines) of imported meat products, that are identified by the ICTS for inspection, must be delivered by the licence holder who imports it, to an establishment where it must be stored and handled in its imported condition by a licence holder until further inspection is completed [SFCR 14(1)(i)].

Imported meat products identified by the ICTS for import inspection that were not presented to a CFIA inspector for inspection must be viewed as unlawfully imported. Refer to Operational procedure: Ordering removal or destruction of unlawful imports for procedures on handling unlawful imports.

This operational guidance outlines the procedures for organoleptic inspection of meat products. For procedures on visual inspection of meat products, refer to Operational procedure: Visual inspection of imported meat products.

If the ICTS has identified a shipment for full inspection, take samples of the meat product for laboratory analysis to fulfill the requirement of annual work plans. Refer to Operational guideline: Product inspection and sampling of meat and poultry products for further information.

For the purpose of product inspection, meat products are grouped into the following categories based on similarities of production, processing and product presentation.

Only fresh meat cuts can be imported in combos. The size of the combo should be such to allow inspector to perform routine inspection activities. Frozen meat cuts of any species cannot be imported in combos unless each cut is individually frozen, wrapped in a way that can be separated easily in its frozen state, and cuts are stacked in the combo bearing all mandatory labelling requirements (a big chunk of frozen meat pieces would not be accepted for inspection).

6.1 Prepare for the inspection

Before conducting an organoleptic inspection:

A link to Meat import work sheet form is available in Appendix II.

6.1.1 Tempering or thawing of meat products

Meat products may require tempering or thawing prior to inspection to allow proper assessment of the defects and condition of the product. The operator of the establishment where product is inspected is responsible to develop and implement proper procedures in their Preventative Controls (PC) for tempering or thawing so as not to damage or compromise the product.

Tempering may be required to remove surface frost in order to render the surface pliable so that the inspector can separate portions of the product (for example, pork ribs, pork hearts, whole pork ham, whole beef cuts).

Thawing may be required to separate pieces of meat products from each other without tearing or compromising the meat products (for example, chicken strips frozen together in a box, boneless chicken breast and thighs, trimmings).

6.1.2 Sampling of meat products

When a shipment of meat is identified for full inspection (organoleptic and visual), conduct the visual inspection first and select samples for organoleptic inspection after the visual inspection is completed.

Conduct a label verification on consumer prepackaged product (all categories to ensure that the food product labels meet the requirements set out in the - Safe Food for Canadians Act and their regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and their regulations). Refer to Operational procedure: Food label verification

6.1.2.1 Raw meat other than Poultry (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, ratites and their respective cuts)
Sampling plans

Sampling plans for imported meat products are generated by ICTS based on the product categories above.

Random sampling

In some instances, a copy of the IIR may not be available due to system issues or the sampling plan that is generated by the ICTS may not be appropriate for product type.

For example: sample numbers generated by the ICTS for combos does not account for the concept of three sampling sites per bin. Another example is when importer enters incorrect description of the lot (incorrect HS code) resulting in ICTS generating a sampling plan that is not appropriate for the product type.

When the ICTS generates an incorrect sampling plan or incorrect size of sample on the IIR:

Example: to determine the sample unit numbers for a shipment of 320 cartons of frozen boneless beef weighing 27 kg:

Formulating a sampling plan for combos of meat products:

Refer to the Operational guideline: General principles of sampling – food products, environment, water and ice for random sampling procedures.

Capture the inspection results for meat products in the ICTS Citrix until further notice. Unsatisfactory results for imported meat products will be entered in the ICTS to trigger intensified inspection of products from the foreign export establishment(s).

6.2 Conduct Inspection

Inspect the required number of samples and apply the defect criteria in Appendix I appropriate to the meat product category.

If Then
one or more critical defect found reject the shipment
minor and major defects found (no critical defects found) refer to decision criteria in Appendix I to accept or reject the lot
the lot (product line) can be clearly accepted or rejected upon completing the inspection on the basis of Step A no further inspection is required
The number of major defect or the total number of defects (minor alone or combination of major and minor) falls between the "accept" and "reject" numbers conduct a second inspection as per Step B, add the total number of defects found in Step A to total number of defects found in Step B. use the total above to accept or reject the lot based on decision criteria in Appendix I.

Note

Total defects are only used if the reject level for major defects has not been exceeded.

6.2.1 Fresh and Frozen Poultry and rabbit or their carcasses and cuts packed in boxes or combos

Sampling plans

Refer to Industry guidance: Poultry re examination program for the number of sample units and acceptance or rejection criteria for fresh and frozen poultry and rabbit, or their carcasses and cuts, packed in boxes or combos.

Random sampling

When the ICTS generates an incorrect sampling plan or size of sample unit on the IIR, refer to the procedures in section 6.1.2.1. above to determine random sample numbers using the appropriate sampling plan

To generate a random sampling plan for combos of fresh and frozen poultry and rabbit and their carcasses and cuts packed in combos, refer to procedure for formulating a sampling plan for combos of meat products in section 6.1.2.1.

Inspection

Use the description and classification of defects for Poultry Carcass and Parts in the industry guidance: Poultry re examination program to identify defective units.

6.2.2 Commercially Sterile shelf stable meat products packed in hermetically sealed containers

Sampling plans

For commercially sterile shelf stable meat products packed in hermetically sealed containers, The IIR will identify the number of sample units to be selected from each lot of product for full inspection. For lots with a minimum of 40 sample units, inspect five containers from each sample unit for defects.

Random sampling

When an IIR is not available, refer to the Industry guidance: Visual examination of commercial sterile low-acid and acidified low-acid foods packed in hermetically sealed containers for the number of sample units and containers to be examined.

When doing a full inspection:

Inspection

Refer to the Industry guidance: Visual examination of commercially sterile low-acid and acidified low-acid foods packed in hermetically sealed containers for procedures on inspection of commercially sterile shelf stable meat products.

6.2.3 Cooked boneless beef from countries not free of Foot and Mouth Disease

To satisfy the requirements in HAR, cooked boneless beef from countries not free of Foot and Mouth Disease must be inspected by a CFIA inspector to verify that the beef has been thoroughly cooked. The CFIA inspection must be performed at a facility which is licensed for this activity and is located near Canadian sea ports. Verification of cooking must take place before product can move inland.

6.2.3.1 Frozen boneless beef cooked in tubes
Sampling Plans

This includes whole pieces or ground beef cooked and shipped in a sealed flexible cooking tube.

If the sampling plan generated by the ICTS and appearing on the IIR has been found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

Inspection

In the case of frozen boneless beef (chunks of beef) cooked in tubes and frozen boneless beef (grounded before cooking) cooked in tubes:

6.2.3.2 Frozen diced boneless beef cooked in tubes
Sampling Plan

This section applies to meat products cooked in a sealed flexible cooking tube, removed from the tube, diced and imported in bulk shipping containers. Each carton is to have a product batch code which must correspond to the batch code indicated on the certificate.

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the inspection found on the IIR generated by the ICTS.

If this plan has been found to be inappropriate for the type of product:

In the case of individually quick frozen diced boneless beef cooked in tubes (diced after cooking):

Inspection

If a shipment of cooked beef from a country not free of Foot and Mouth Disease is not thoroughly cooked, immediately notify your supervisor and the CFIA regional or area animal health contact depending on the established communication protocol for further instructions.

6.2.4 All other types of meat products

Sampling plans

Select the required sample units using the sampling plan for the product examination found on the IIR.

Random sampling
Inspection

In the case of chilled or frozen diced boneless meats, the product in its immediate packaging should be removed from the shipping cartons when presented for inspection, so that the contents of the packages may be inspected in their present physical state (refrigerated or frozen).

A sample unit of frozen diced cooked meat product in its immediate packaging should be removed from the shipping cartons when presented for inspection, so that a preliminary inspection of the frozen contents of the packages may be performed.

Completely defrost a sub-sample representing 10% of the volume of the sample unit in a white tray and examine any exudates from the meat product.

Acceptable criteria for bulk packed diced meats:

Acceptable criteria for Prosciutto, Parma Hams, Serrano Hams, Sausages

If the products do not meet the above criteria, refuse the lot.

Note

The presence of mold on this type of products may be a result of the process. If the presence of mold is noted during the inspection, contact your regional or Area Operations Specialist or Operational Guidance and Expertise (OGE) for further guidance.

For bone-in products such as Prosciutto, Parma Hams, Serrano Hams suspected of under curing:

Refuse entry if the lot of meat product is under cured

Once the inspection is completed:

6.2.5 Canadian meat returning

Import information for Canadian meat shipments returning to Canada (regardless of the reason for return) is not entered into ICTS. Therefore, no IIR or sampling plan is generated.

Voluntary returns

Determine the sampling plan and type of inspection based on the reason for return.

Determine the number of sample units and defect criteria based on the product category as described above.

Shipments refused entry by Foreign Competent Authority (FCA)

When meat shipments refused entry by a Foreign Competent Authority (FCA) and reported as a Port of Entry violation (PoE) violation, inspect the shipment using the Operational procedure: Port of Entry (PoE) violations reported by foreign countries.

Not all shipments refused by FCA are reported as PoE violation.

When lots are rejected, determine if rejected lots should be ordered to be removed or destroyed. Refer to the Operational procedure: Ordering removal or destruction of unlawful imports.

Handling Refused Shipments

a) When a shipment of meat product from US has been refused for food safety related issues, each shipping container of the refused shipments MUST be stamped "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé".

b) When a shipment of meat product from US has been refused for non-food safety related issues, inspector may determine not to stamp the containers upon request from importer

c) When a shipment of meat products from the US is refused at the port of landing in Canada and the shipment has not been unloaded, the stamping of the export certificate with the "refused" stamp will be sufficient.

d) When a shipment of meat products from countries other than US has been refused for any reason, each shipping container of the refused shipment MUST be stamped "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé".

Stamp all original OMICs, covering refused shipments "Refused CFIA/ACIA Refusé". Record the date and your initial adjacent to the stamped impression.

6.3 Communicate the inspection results

Notify your supervisor and follow the established communication protocol in your region to notify the Area Operations Specialist of all unsatisfactory import inspection results. The Area Operations Specialist will advise the National Issues Management Office and /or Food Import Export Division (FIED) of the International Affairs Branch (IAB).

Record the inspection results for exported shipments of Canadian meat products returning to Canada on the CFIA form 2367. Forward a copy of the form 2367 to the regional or area office as per established communication protocols. This form allows traceability of the meat shipment and could be used during food safety investigations.

7.0 Appendices

Appendix I – Sampling Plan and decision criteria for Raw Meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, ratites and their respective cuts) other than Poultry Meat

Appendix II – Meat import worksheet

Appendix III – Table for determining area of combo for sampling plan

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

Appendix I – Sampling Plan and decision criteria for Raw Meat other than Poultry Meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, ratites and their respective cuts)

Plan No. Shipment Size (kg) Step No. No. Sample units selected and examined Major Accept
(Defects found
/Action taken)
Major Accept
(Defects found
/Action taken)
Total Accept
Defects found & Action taken
(major & minor)
Total Reject
Defects found & Action taken
(major & minor)
1. 454 or less A 3 0 1 1 2
2. 3629 or less A 6 0 1 5 6
3. 3630 to 10885 A 9 0 2 4 8
3. B 3
3. Total of A + B 12 1 2 8 9
4. 10886 to 27271 A 15 0 3 6 12
4. B 15
4. Total of A + B 30 2 3 18 19
5. 27272 to 108861 A 22 0 4 9 16
5. B 25
5. Total of A + B 47 3 4 26 27
6. 108862 and over A 27 0 4 10 19
6. B 40
6. Total of A + B 67 4 5 35 36

Defect Criteria for Meat from Cattle and Calves

Defect Minor Major Critical
Blood Clots 40 – 150 mm (GD)

>150 mm (GD); or
>5 minor clots Table Note 1

Any clot(s) that would seriously affect product use
Bone Fragments

Hard bone <40 mm (GD);
bone slivers (from rib)
<75 mm × 6 mm

>40 mm (GD); or
>5 minor fragments Table Note 1

Any fragment(s) that would seriously affect product use
Bruises

25 – 60 mm (GD); or
13 – 25 mm deep

>60 mm (GD); or
>25 mm deep; or
>5 minor bruises Table Note 1

Any bruises that would seriously affect product use
Detached Cartilage Ligaments >25 mm long and free from muscle tissue >5 minor defects that would not seriously affect product use Any cartilage or ligament that would seriously affect product use
Faecal Material Any amount
Hair, Wool, Hide Hide <10 mm (GD); 5 – 10 strands of hair or wool. The number of minor defects is derived by dividing the number of hairs by 10. Hair cluster in single area

Hide >10 mm (GD); or
>25 strands of hair or wool; or
>5 clusters of hair provided not affecting product usability Table Note 1

Hair, hide or wool that seriously affect product use – 100 single strands of hair in one sample unit
Harmful Extraneous Material Any substance that would cause minor tissue irritation Any substance that would cause injury or illness
Harmful Extraneous Material Paper or plastic <45 cm2; specks of rail dust covering an area <10 mm (GD); or single grass seeds (not associated with inflammation) Blunt wood>24 mm (GD); paper or plastic >45 cm2; or specks of rail dust covering an area >10 mm (GD); small insect; >5 minor defects that would not seriously affect product use Large insect; insect associated with unsanitary conditions; any substance that would seriously affect product use
Ingesta Any amount
Off Condition (sour) Any amount of off condition meat
Pathological Lesions Any lesion which would not have been evident at PM inspection that would not seriously affect product use Any other lesion(s)
Stains, Discoloured Areas 10 – 40 mm (GD)

>40 mm (GD)
>5 minor stains Table Note 1

Stains that would seriously affect product use
Other i.e. Freezer burn Defect(s) that would affect product appearance but not use Defect(s) that would materially affect product use Defect(s) that would seriously affect product use

Table Notes

Footnote 1

Where minor defects are numerous enough to classify as major, do not score as minor also. (GD means Greatest Dimension; > means Greater Than; < means Less Than)

Return to table note 1 referrer

Defect Criteria for Meat of Sheep, Lamb, Goat and Equine

Defect Minor Major Critical
Blood Clots 40 – 150 mm (GD)

>150 mm (GD); or
>5 minor clots Table Note 2

Any clot(s) that would seriously affect product use
Bone Fragments

Hard bone <40 mm (GD); bone slivers (from rib)
<75 mm × 6 mm

>40 mm (GD); or
>5 minor fragments Table Note 2

Any fragment(s) that would seriously affect product use
Bruises

25 – 60 mm (GD), or
13 – 25 mm deep

>60 mm (GD); or
>25 mm deep; or
>5 minor bruises Table Note 2

Any bruises that would seriously affect product use
Detached Cartilage Ligaments >25 mm long and free from muscle tissue >5 minor defects that would not seriously affect product use Any cartilage or ligament that would seriously affect product use
Faecal Material Any amount
Hair, Wool, Hide Hide <10 mm (GD); 5 – 10 strands of hair or wool. The number of minor defects is derived by dividing the number of hairs by 10. Hair cluster in single area Hide >10 mm (GD); or >25 strands of hair or wool; or >5 clusters of hair provided not affecting product usability Table Note 2 Hair, hide or wool that seriously affect product use – 100 single strands of hair in one sample unit
Harmful Extraneous Material Any substance that would cause minor tissue irritation Any substance that would cause injury or illness
Harmless Extraneous Material Paper or plastic <45 cm2; specks of rail dust covering an area <10 mm (GD); or single grass seeds (not associated with inflammation) Blunt wood>24 mm (GD); paper or plastic >45 cm2; or specks of rail dust covering an area >10 mm (GD); small insect; >5 minor defects that would not seriously affect product use Large insect; insect associated with unsanitary conditions; any substance that would seriously affect product use
Ingesta <10 mm (GD) >10 mm (GD)
Off Condition (sour) Any amount of off condition meat
Pathological Lesions Any lesion which would not have been evident at PM inspection that would not seriously affect product use Any other lesion(s)
Stains, Discoloured Areas 10 – 40 mm (GD)

>40 mm (GD)
>5 minor stains Table Note 2

Stains that would seriously affect product use
Other i.e. Freezer burn Defect(s) that would affect product appearance but not use Defect(s) that would materially affect product use Defect(s) that would seriously affect product use

Table Notes

Footnote 2

Where minor defects are numerous enough to classify as major, do not score as minor also. (GD means Greatest Dimension; > means Greater Than; < means Less Than)

Return to table note 2 referrer

Defect Criteria for Meat from Swine

Defect Minor Major Critical
Blood Clots 40 – 150 mm (GD)

>150 mm (GD); or
>5 minor clots Table Note 3

Any clot(s) that would seriously affect product use
Bone Fragments

Hard bone <40 mm (GD); bone slivers (from rib)
<75 mm × 6 mm

>40 mm (GD); or
>5 minor fragments Table Note 3

Any fragment(s) that would seriously affect product use
Bruises

25 – 60 mm (GD); or
13 – 25 mm deep

>60 mm (GD); or
>25 mm deep; or
> 5 minor bruises Table Note 3

Any bruises that would seriously affect product use
Detached Cartilage Ligaments >25 mm long and free from muscle tissue >5 minor defects that would not seriously affect product use Any cartilage or ligament that would seriously affect product use
Faecal Material Any amount
Harmful Extraneous Material Any substance that would cause minor tissue irritation Any substance that would cause injury or illness
Harmful Extraneous Material Paper or plastic <45 cm2; specks of rail dust covering an area <10 mm (GD); or single grass seeds (not associated with inflammation) Blunt wood >24 mm (GD); paper or plastic >45 cm2; or specks of rail dust covering an area >10 mm (GD); small insect; >5 minor defects that would not seriously affect product use Large insect; insect associated with unsanitary conditions; any substance that would seriously affect product use
Ingesta <10 mm (GD) >10 mm (GD)
Lips, Ear Canals, Teeth, Kidneys, Liver Any amount for each sample unit
Lung Tissue Any amount
Off Condition (sour) Any amount of off condition meat
Pathological Lesions Any lesion which would not have been evident at PM inspection that would not seriously affect product use Any other lesion(s)
Skin (on skinless cuts), Hair, Hair Roots

Skin (on skinless cuts)
<10 mm (GD);
Skin (on skinless cuts) with hair or visible hair roots <20 cm2;
1 defect =
 – If <13 (strands of hair), Total # of hairs ÷ 3 and/or
 – Total # of hair roots ÷ 10 and/or
 – Clusters of hairs in single area.

Skin (on skinless cuts) >10 mm (GD);
Skin (on skinless cuts) with
 – hair or visible hair roots >20 cm2; or
 – >13 but <100 single strands of hair in one sample unit.

Skinless or skin on cuts:
 – skin, hair or hair roots seriously affecting product usability
 – 100 single strands of hair in one sample unit

Stains, Discoloured Areas 10 – 40 mm (GD)

>40 mm (GD)
>5 minor stains Table Note 3

Stains that would seriously affect product use
Other i.e. Freezer burn Defect(s) that would affect product appearance but not use Defect(s) that would materially affect product use Defect(s) that would seriously affect product use

Table Notes

Footnote 3

Where minor defects are numerous enough to classify as major, do not score as minor also. (GD means Greatest Dimension; > means Greater Than; < means Less Than)

Return to table note 3 referrer

Appendix II – Meat import worksheet

Meat Import Worksheet

MCAP No. space
OMIC space
Weight-Kg.space
Date Inspected space
Subsample # Defects
Minor
Defects
Major
Defects
Critical
Comments
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
Total Defects
Accept
Resample
Reject
Inspector

Appendix III – Table for determining area of combo for sampling plan

1

1, 2, 3

2

4, 5, 6

3

7, 8, 9

4

10, 11, 12

5

13, 14, 15

6

16, 17, 18

7

19, 20, 21

8

22, 23, 24

9

25, 26, 27

10

28, 29, 30

11

31, 32, 33

12

34, 35, 36

13

37, 38, 39

14

40, 41, 42

15

43, 44, 45

16

46, 47, 48

17

49, 50, 51

18

52, 53, 54

19

55, 56, 57

20

58, 59, 60

21

61, 62, 63

22

64, 65,66

23

67, 68, 69

24

70, 71, 72

25

73, 74, 75

The numbers in bold (1-25) refers to the number of combos in the shipment. The 3 numbers under the combo number represents the number of samples from the top, middle and bottom. The first number refers to the top, the second number refers to the middle and the third number refers to the bottom.

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