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Use of digital recording (Camera, Video, Audio) devices during inspections

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1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this operational guideline (OG) is to provide guidance to inspection staff for taking and documenting, downloading, saving, transferring, sharing and retaining digital recordings created during inspection related activities.

This guidance will not provide information on digital recording devices used during investigations. You must contact Enforcement and Investigation Services (EIS) for guidance during investigations.

This guideline applies to digital recording devices issued by the CFIA.

Digital recordings must not be taken with personally owned devices.

2.0 Target audience

This document is intended for use by all CFIA employees who perform inspection related activities, their supervisors and managers.

3.0 Overview

Inspections are conducted to evaluate compliance and document non-compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.

Digital recordings may be used to support inspection observations. They are not intended to replace accurate note-taking or other inspection activities.

Digital recordings need to be handled following CFIA's privacy, security and document management requirements.

For details see Corporate Security Division (internal access only).

4.0 Background

Regulated Parties have expressed concerns regarding privacy and the possibility of leaking or sharing confidential business information (for example recipes, equipment processes, and public perception around animal handling). As such, this document provides guidance to ensure that digital recordings are handled in accordance with privacy, security and document management requirements.

5.0 Authorities

CFIA has the authority to perform inspections to determine compliance with regulations that the CFIA enforces. Inspectors must be designated under the appropriate act(s) and regulations in order to conduct inspections, including the taking of digital recordings.

For details on the powers of inspectors, consult CFIA regulations.

6.0 Definitions

Digital Recording
For the purpose of this document, any photograph, video or audio (including the audio portion of the video) recording taken using a digital device (including analogue)
Digital Recording Device
For the purpose of this document, any CFIA issued rugged device, camera, cell phone, tablet, laptop, blackberry, smart phone, video camera or audio recorder (including analogue)
Official record

Records that are required by the CFIA to control, support, or document the delivery of programs, to carry out operations, to make decisions, or to account for activities of the Agency – are official records. Official records must be saved. Examples include, but are not limited to, information that:

  • reflects the Agency's position on an issue
  • documents a decision
  • initiates, authorizes or completes an Agency business transaction
  • states policies or directives
  • originated from outside the Agency and forms part of a corporate record
  • provides evidence of the Agency's business activities
  • does not exist anywhere else in the Agency such as work schedules, status reports, meeting agendas and minutes, briefing notes, or final versions of documents and related recommendations

For more information about identifying official records refer to What to Keep What Not to Keep (Internal access only).

Transitory record

Transitory records are only required for a limited period of time in order to complete a routine action or to prepare a subsequent record. Transitory records can be deleted as soon as they have fulfilled their immediate requirements. Transitory records include, but are not limited to:

  • casual communications and personal (non-business related) messages
  • miscellaneous "For your information (FYI)" notices
  • information received as part of a distribution list (in other words the official record is either managed elsewhere in the Agency (for example Z-List notices) or it is meant for information purposes only)
  • duplicate copies used for convenience only
  • copies of Agency publications
  • draft documents where all critical content changes have been incorporated into a subsequent document and saved in the Agency repository
Master copy
An original recording, film, or document from which copies can be made

7.0 Acronyms

Access to Information and Privacy Act
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Destination Inspections Services
Digital Service Delivery Platform
Enforcement and Investigation Services
Electronic Inspection Worksheet
Operational Guideline
Regulated Party
Standard Inspection Procedures

8.0 Operational guideline

This figure shows the 5 steps involved in taking digital recordings.
Description of Figure 1- Process flow

This figure shows the 5 steps involved in taking digital recordings. The first step is taking and documenting digital images. The second step is downloading and storing digital images. The third step is transporting and transmitting digital images. The fourth step is retention of digital images. The fifth step is sharing of digital images.

8.1 Introduction

CFIA inspectors do not need permission from the RP to take picture or videos.

However, as per the Criminal Code of Canada, inspectors do need to ask permission to take audio recording (including the audio portion of a video).

As a courtesy, and to help maintain a good relationship with the RP, inspectors can inform the RP at the beginning of the inspection that they may be taking digital recordings. Inspectors are encouraged to explain to the RP that all digital recordings are handled using established CFIA and Treasury Board security, privacy and document management procedures.

CFIA digital devices should be clearly identified (for example identification sticker).

See Annex 1: Digital Recording Device Use Flow Chart.

8.2 Biosecurity

Follow established biosecurity procedures for digital recording devices as required (see Operational Procedure for Sanitation and/or Decontamination of Mobile Devices for Routine Operations (OP 168-2015) (internal access only RDIMS - 9831340)

8.3 When to take digital recordings

To be effective, a digital recording must be of sufficient clarity and detail to reflect the inspector's observations and must represent what the inspector saw with the appropriate level of detail.

Inspectors can take digital recordings:

8.4 Preparing to use a digital recording device for an inspection

8.5 Taking digital recordings


8.6 Documenting digital recordings

Inspectors must document digital recordings, captured during an inspection, in their notes as per specific program procedures (including electronic notes, such as EIW, DSDP, etc.).

The following information must be captured in the inspector's notes (written or digital):

An optional template for documenting (Logging) digital recordings (internal access only – RDIMS 10228257) is available. The template is not mandatory and information can be captured in other formats as long as the necessary information is accurately documented. The template does not have to be printed and can be completed and saved electronically.

Additional information about electronic notes can be found in Operational Directive for Electronic Notes (OD-14483) (internal access only - RDIMS 8391451) and Frequently Asked Questions – Electronic Notes (internal access only - RDIMS 8400616).

Additional information on SIP and EIW is available in Standard Inspection Procedure.

8.7 Downloading, saving and storing digital recordings

Digital recordings are subject to the same statutory and regulatory requirements as paper records and as with any other inspection related documents, must be saved according to the determined security level (for example Protected A, Protected B).

Details on how to determine the level of security for a document (including digital recordings) are available in the CFIA Guide to the Transporting, Transmission, Storage and Destruction of Protected and Classified Information (internal access only – RDIMS 3707409).

In most cases, digital recordings documenting suspected non-compliances are to be handled as Protected B or higher. Refer to the above guidelines on determining the level of protection.

Additional information about handling protected documents and corporate security is also available from the Corporate Security Division (internal access only).

8.8 Transporting, transmitting and printing digital recordings

The method of transferring, transporting (for example USB), transmitting (for example emailing, texting) and printing digital recordings (as with any other inspection documentation) depends on the security level (for example Protected A, Protected B).

Details on how to determine the level of security for a document (including digital recordings) are available in the CFIA Guide to the Transporting, Transmission Storage and Destruction of Protected and Classified Information (internal access only – RDIMS 3707409).

Details on the use of secure portable storage devices (USB) (internal access only) are available on Merlin.

8.9 Records retention

Digital recordings, as with any other inspection report, must be kept for a period of 10 years unless they are transitory in nature. Please see the Recorded Information Management Policy (internal access only) and the Subject Classification Plan (internal access only – RDIMS 4174985) and What to Keep, What Not to Keep (internal access only) for details on transitory and official records of business value.

8.10 Sharing of digital recordings

Inspectors may show (play back) digital recordings captured during an inspection to the RP. The RP may take their own digital recordings of the same subjects as the inspector. CFIA can only share copies of digital recordings with the RP if the digital recordings do not reveal any personal information (face, identifying marks or any other things that could identify a person). Any digital recordings containing personal information can only be shared through an Access to Information and Privacy Act (ATIP) request. If unsure, contact your supervisor and the Access to Information Office at the Welcome to the ATIP Office's intranet privacy page (Internal access only). Any disclosure of recordings should be documented in the inspector's notes.

8.11 The eegulated party refuses to allow the taking of digital recordings during inspection

RP restrictions on an inspector's ability to capture digital recordings may be considered obstruction.

If the RP refuses to allow the taking of digital recordings the inspector should:

Your supervisor can contact EIS to discuss follow up actions (for example Administrative Monetary Penalties [AMPS]).

Annex 1: Digital recording device use flow chart

Digital Recording Device Use Flow Chart. Description follows.
Description of diagram: Digital Recording Device Use Flow Chart

This chart describes the steps to take when taking digital recordings as part of inspection process.

  • Step 1 – prepare the digital device for inspection
  • Step 2 – Discuss with RP that digital recordings may be taken (Permission is not necessary except for audio) If the regulated party refuses contact your supervisor, leave the premises and contact EIS regarding obstruction of duties
  • Step 3 – Take digital recordings
  • Step 4 – Document digital recordings
  • Step 5 – Downloading, saving and storing digital recordings
  • Step 6 – Transferring / Transmitting (for example emailing, printing )Digital Recordings
  • Step 7 – Sharing digital recordings
  • Step 8 – Retaining digital recordings


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