PI-005: Chapter 8 Tuber Inspection Requirements
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In the present version of this chapter, contact information, references to specific organizations within the CFIA, and references to other documents or policies may not be current. This information will be updated at the time of the next revision of this chapter. Please contact the CFIA for any questions or further information.
- 8.1 Objective
- 8.2 Inspection Frequency
- 8.3 Preparation for Tuber Inspection
- 8.4 Pre-Inspection Procedures at Shipping Point (General)
- 8.5 Sampling
- 8.6 Inspection of Tuber Samples
- 8.7 Phytosanitary Certification
- 8.8 Tuber Reinspection
- 8.9 The North American Seed Potato Health Certificate (NASPHC)
- Appendix 8 - Forms Used For Tuber Inspection
A tuber inspection is performed on graded product to determine if the shipment meets the tuber size and grade standard established in Section 48, and 48.1 of Part II of the Seeds Regulations and any additional requirements outlined in export market agreements. This chapter explains inspection procedures for seed potato lots inspected by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspectors. It should be used with PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual which explains the process for identifying, scoring and recording defects and diseases to determine product acceptability.
8.2 Inspection Frequency
Potatoes are a perishable commodity and are subject to deterioration over time. It is therefore necessary to frequently monitor the condition of graded potatoes, bagged or bulk, to ensure that they meet the tuber standards set by the Seeds Regulations Part II.
8.2.1 Domestic Shipments
A minimum of one inspection per seed lot is required for the domestic shipment of seed potatoes. It is recommended that the inspection be carried out on the first load shipped from each lot. However, any inspections performed on a seed lot for export purposes counts as part of the minimum domestic requirements and additional inspections of seed in the same lot may not be required.
When a lot is shipped over several weeks or months, compliance visits or additional inspections are advisable. In cooperation with the grower, the inspector must make arrangements to coordinate inspection visits with shipments. Any grower having difficulty with the quality of seed potatoes in storage or after grading will be monitored at a higher frequency during grading operations.
8.2.2 U.S. Shipments
All seed potato shipments being exported from Canada to the United States (U.S.) for either recertification or commercial planting must be inspected. Seed potato shipments for recertification must be inspected by a CFIA inspector, while shipments not intended for recertification as seed may be inspected by either a CFIA inspector, or shipped under the Seed Potato Quality Management Program Refer to the most recent memorandum for additional United States import requirements for potatoes from Canada.
8.2.3 International Shipments
All shipments are subject to inspection. Import requirements and tolerances may vary depending on the standard of the importing country. It is the responsibility of the grower/packer to meet the import requirements. For information on phytosanitary certification refer to section 8.7.
8.2.4 Pre-Grading Inspection for Special Markets
In special circumstances an inspector may be requested to pre-inspect tubers prior to grading a lot to ensure it is eligible for shipment to certain Canadian export markets. These markets can have strict tolerances for regulated non-quarantine diseases such as scab or rhizoctonia which require special attention. Take a random sample from each storage seed lot (minimum 200 tubers or as determined by export agreements). In order to comply with certain export market requirements it may be necessary to wash the samples before scoring defects. When required, wash the sample prior to inspection. Inspect the tubers as per the sample inspection procedure concentrating on the tolerances outlined in the export agreement. Determine the eligibility for that market. In some cases the market requirements are very strict and it may be difficult to meet the standards. Advise grower on the results of the inspection.
8.2.5 Pre-Clearance Program for Special Markets
For some export markets there are pre-clearance programs in which all the inspection activities for regulated non-quarantine pests are carried out at origin before a shipment leaves Canada. This may include field, harvest, storage and or grading inspections/audits carried out jointly by CFIA and foreign inspectors. If an inspector is involved in such activity they should be fully aware of the work plans and review the manuals related to the program prior to inspection.
8.3 Preparation for Tuber Inspection
- The grower or shipper initiates the inspection process by contacting the local inspection office to request necessary documentation to accompany a shipment.
- The inspector must review the domestic or export requirements for seed potatoes in order to determine lot eligibility for shipment. For export shipments, there may be special requirements that must be met prior to document issuance. The inspector must confirm all the necessary testing requirements have been met and the lot certification numbers, class issued, etc. must be confirmed. For phytosanitary inspection preparation please see Section 8.7.4.
- When certification tags are requested, print and record the number of tags needed. When additional documents are required such as Seed Potato Tuber Inspection forms (CFIA/ACIA 3076) or a Record of Bulk Movement for Seed Potatoes (CFIA/ACIA 2343) they should be brought to the inspection site. When tags are issued at least one tag must be kept at the office with the initials of the inspector that issued the tag. The tag information should be reviewed by another inspector in order to be sure that tags have been issued properly.
- Assemble required inspection materials i.e. knives, tuber sizers, scales, gloves, disinfectant, hand sprayers, thermometer, blank forms etc.
- Wear appropriate clothing and disinfect boots, knife, sizers, sample containers such as wire baskets or buckets and scales to prevent contamination from previous inspection sites.
8.4 Pre-Inspection Procedures at Shipping Point (General)
When arriving at the shipping point an inspector should observe the general conditions of the operation. This will give the inspector an indication of most of the problems to anticipate in the actual tuber inspection. These preliminary observations of the lot can reveal potential tuber defects that may keep the lot from entering specific markets.
- First observe and note general storage conditions:
- If necessary use thermometer and take ambient temperature (too low may indicate risk of chilling injury);
- Look for presence of frost or excessive dampness in the facility;
- Odor may indicate a problem with rot in the pile;
- General level of cleanliness of storage and equipment.
- Accurately identify the lot that is being graded by variety and class, observe general conditions of the lot looking for wet or hot spots and excessive sprouting. These conditions are indicators of disease pathogen activity and sources of inoculums.
- Observe the appearance of the tubers on the face of the pile. Special attention should be paid to tubers diseased with scab, rhizoctonia, soft rots, dry rots etc. In addition malformed tubers, foreign varieties and tubers damaged by frost or mechanical injury should also be identified. A sample could be inspected here to confirm gradeability of the lot.
- Go to the grading area and observe tubers in cull bins. Most of the disease problems will be seen in the cull bin. At this point, it is advisable to cut a number of the diseased or misshapen tubers to observe internal defects and for disease identification.
A sampling strategy is designed to ensure that a representative sample is obtained which directly reflects the total graded shipment. The ideal sample should be random, accurate and repeatable if required. It is advisable to check a sample at the start of grading of the lot to identify potential problems early.
8.5.1 Sampling Rates
A sample consists of a minimum of 1% of the total shipment unless otherwise stated in export agreements for specific markets. In the case of multiple shipments from one lot during the course of a consignment the sampling intensity may be reduced to 0.5% after the first load or subsequent loads, if they clearly meet the tolerances set out in the Seeds Regulations Part II. If the load is questionable it should be inspected at the 1% level or greater.
8.5.2 Tuber Sampling
Inspection requires detailed examination of a sample of tubers from graded bags and containers or equivalent quantity from a graded bulk load. Inspection of these samples should be done on a hand rack or grading table in a well-lit area. If the inspector determines that the lighting or facilities are inadequate, she/he should request improvements. If the grower does not comply, the inspector can refuse to do the inspection. Tubers which are cut during the course of an inspection should never be placed back into the shipment.
Depending on the type of shipment the following sampling methods are used:
184.108.40.206 Bulk Shipments
Determine the quantity to be shipped in consultation with the grower and calculate the sample weight at a 1% rate. For example, a trailer containing 40,000 lb. will require a total sample of 400 lb. It is preferred that the grower supply a container to obtain sub-samples, however, in some circumstances, the inspector may have to use his/her own. If this is the case, the inspector must ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of the container prior to and after using it. Once the sub-sample container (i.e. wire basket) has been filled, the contents should be weighed to determine the number of sub-samples needed to equal the total sample required.
Continuing with the above example, if the sub-sample basket holds 25 lb, a total of 16 sub-samples would be required (i.e. 400 lb/25 lb). Count the tubers in several of the 25 lb sub-samples to determine an average number of tubers/sub-sample in order to calculate percentages of tuber defects.
220.127.116.11 Bagged Shipments
Determine the number of bags in the shipment and calculate the number of bags needed for an inspection. For example, a shipment of 500 cwt. (500 x 100 lb) bags would require the inspection of 500 lb or 5 bags. Each bag should be selected at random from various parts of the shipment. Entire contents of bag should be inspected. If an individual load consists of more than one lot, the required sampling plan for each lot must be calculated and each lot evaluated individually.
8.6 Inspection of Tuber Samples
After obtaining adequate representative samples of the lot in question the inspector should then proceed in the assessment of the lot to see if it meets the tuber standards set out in Section 48.1 of the Seeds Regulations Part II and any additional export requirements. The inspector should first ensure that all packaging materials are labelled properly and that they meet the requirements described in the Seeds Regulations Part II Seed Potatoes. The PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual explains the process for identifying, scoring and recording defects and diseases. New inspectors will need to attend training workshops, review manuals and regulations and work with experienced inspectors for some time until they are finally audited and assessed to be proficient in that area.
The inspector should begin the inspection by counting the number of tubers in the sample. This is done to determine the overall percentage of defects found. Tuber standards are based on counts which are used to calculate the percentages of scoreable defects. The average count can be established after the inspection of 2-3 cwt samples. Once the average number of tubers per sample has been established, the entire tuber sample will not need to be counted and the inspector will only need to count the scoreable tubers. Record the results on a Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Report (CFIA/ACIA 3076). Information on the scoring of defects can be found in section 3.1 and related Appendices of PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual.
Any visible defect or condition that may affect the quality of the bag or bulk load of tubers should be noted under comments on the Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Report (CFIA/ACIA 3076) and discussed with the grower in an effort to remove the problem. This could include the presence of stones, sprouts and dirt clods.
If an inspector determines that the seed potatoes in a shipment do not meet the grade standards as set out in the Seed Regulations Part II, the inspector shall request that the grower regrade the seed potatoes. Should the grower refuse to regrade the seed potatoes, the official tags must be returned to the inspector.
Cleanliness requirements for seed potatoes are discussed in section 3.3 of PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual. The presence of soil can interfere with performing a good inspection and the tubers should be reasonably clean. It may be necessary for the samples to be cleaned prior to scoring the defects. Documentation should not be issued unless the inspector is satisfied that the tubers are clean enough to perform an adequate inspection.
8.6.2 Defects not scored
In addition to the defects and diseases that are scoreable under the Seed Regulations Part II there are those that may be found during inspection that are not scoreable. Descriptions can be found in Appendix 12 of PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual.
8.7 Phytosanitary Certification
A Phytosanitary Certificate is an official document issued by the plant protection organization of the exporting country to the plant protection organization of the importing country. It certifies that the regulated plants and plant products covered by the certificate are considered to be free from quarantine pests, practically free from other injurious pests, and that they conform with the importing country's requirements. The Phytosanitary Certificate is not a trade document and all information contained in the certificate is strictly confidential.
8.7.1 Significance of the Phytosanitary Certificate
A Phytosanitary Certificate is a legal document. It can only be issued once it has been established that the requirements of the importing county have been met and it can not be altered in any way. The responsibility for certification and accurate completion of the document rests with the Government of Canada. A Phytosanitary Certificate can only be issued by an Authorized Certification Official (ACO) who has successfully completed the evaluation and met the requirements outlined in Section 4.1 of the Quality System Manual for Authorized Certification (ACO) Program for the Signing of Phytosanitary Certificates.
Issuance of a Phytosanitary Certificate achieves two major objectives:
- To confirm that the plants and plant products in the shipment do not pose any undue risk of introducing undesirable pests from the exporting country and to document to the plant protection organization of the importing country that the Canadian product conforms to the official phytosanitary import regulations of the country receiving the goods; and
- To facilitate the flow of plants and plant products between countries.
8.7.2 Phytosanitary Documentation
This information is outlined in the training manual Export Certification: The Issuance of Phytosanitary Certificates (TM 157A01.2) and D-99-06: Policy on the Issuance of Phytosanitary Certificates.
8.7.3 Phytosanitary Inspection
Seed Potatoes being exported offshore must be inspected prior to shipment. The inspection is usually conducted at the grower's premise but it can alternatively be conducted at dockside or prior to last mode of transportation. It is a tuber grade inspection with special attention paid to the phytosanitary requirements of the importing country.
As discussed in Section 8.6.1, soil is a pathway for many types of plant pests and there may be agreements specifying soil limitations with various importing countries. Such conditions are governed by phytosanitary certification and should be expressed as gram of soil per kilogram of sample. If the soil exceeds the permitted quantity, the grower should be given the opportunity to regrade the seed stock to comply with requirements.
To determine the amount of soil by weight the inspector should first weigh the sample of tubers and any loose soil that may have been in the packaging. The tubers should then be washed and allowed to dry. Once the tubers have dried, they should be weighed again. The weight of the clean tubers should be subtracted from the weight of the tubers and soil prior to washing.
8.7.4 Preparation for Phytosanitary Inspection
An official request for a Phytosanitary Certificate must be received in writing prior to the initiation of the phytosanitary inspection procedures. The request should be reviewed and the exporter contacted if additional information is required.
Each importing country may have different import requirements: therefore the inspector must make sure all information is gathered prior to the tuber inspection. To prepare for an export inspection the inspector must:
- Ensure that they have the most up to date Foreign Plant Quarantine Import Regulations (FPQIR). This information is maintained in a database by the Export and Technical Standards Section of the CFIA. There are three methods for accessing this information:
- Obtain authority to access the Export Certification System (ECS) - Plant which involves being trained on the system.
- Have somebody who has access to the ECS-Plant do a search on your behalf.
- Request information from the Export and Technical Standards Section if the information is not in ECS-Plant or if it is more than 2 years old. The inspector should be fully aware of import requirements prior to commencing the inspection. In cases where the inspector is not the ACO that will be issuing the Phytosanitary Certificate, he or she should consult with the ACO prior to commencing the inspection.
- Review list of growers and seed potato certification numbers (provided by exporter) and determine their eligibility for certain special market requirements based on the FPQIR information (e.g. EU/EEC, BRR disease free zones, pest free zones).
- Review import and contract requirements. Determine if laboratory tests of lots are needed and if copies of the results are required prior to issuance of the Phytosanitary Certificate.
- A Permit to Import issued to the importer from the importing country's plant protection organization will list specific pests and tolerances to be adhered to. When Permit to Import is required, a copy should be obtained from the exporter and the inspector must ensure that all procedures listed on the permit are followed and that any phytosanitary requirements outlined on the permit are met.
8.7.5 Phytosanitary Inspection (Grower's Premise)
Packaging and labelling requirements as specified in the contract should be verified.
Inspectors must sample the lot at random and perform tuber inspection as explained earlier in this chapter and in section 4 of the PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual. Under no circumstances can a shipment pass inspection if it fails to meet Canadian tolerances. The Canadian tolerances are the minimum standards for all tuber inspections and more stringent tolerances from importing countries will take precedence over the Canadian tolerances.
Some examples of tuber inspections to be done on the grower's premise include bulk loads, containers, polypropylene tote bags and bagged shipments.
18.104.22.168 Dockside Inspection Procedure
At dockside the inspector must:
- Where possible, check the interior of the vehicle for any evidence of frost.
- Take and record internal pulp temperatures.
- Observe the general condition of containers (e.g. wet spots, broken containers, etc.).
- Check the tags to verify correctly recorded variety, size, certification number, etc.
- Check that the bags are new and that the bag markings do not make any reference to non-certified potatoes. Ensure the bags agree with certification tag information (e.g. size, variety, class, etc.).
- Sample and inspect bags or containers taken at random from the load as outlined in sampling plan (refer to Section 8.5 of this chapter).
- Determine if the load is acceptable and record the results of inspection on the Tuber Inspection Report (CFIA/ACIA 3076). Issue receipt for inspection fees as per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice, and complete the Seed Potato Shipment Report (CFIA/ACIA 2100). There may be regional variations in who issues the invoices and therefore inspectors should be aware of the procedures in their office.
- Release the load for shipment to destination if the grade is acceptable and all phytosanitary conditions are met. The Authorized Certification Official will issue a Phytosanitary Certificate identifying all lots loaded on the ship.
- If the load fails to pass inspection the load is returned to the grower's or packer's premises. The shipping point CFIA inspection office and the shipper are to be advised of the rejection of the load.
- Issue a Notice of Detention (CFIA/ACIA 3256) on the load if the grade is unacceptable and order either:
- Tag removal and disposal of the potatoes, or
- Regrading of the seed under the supervision of an inspector. Once the load passes inspection, issue a Notice of Release from Detention (CFIA/ACIA 3257).
8.8 Tuber Reinspection
A reinspection may be requested by a buyer when tuber conditions are in conflict with either the established tuber standards at destination (Seeds Regulations Part II Section 48.1(1)) or size as indicated in an established contract between the buyer and seller.
8.8.1 Reinspection Procedure
Upon reception, the purchaser of the seed potatoes can request a reinspection if she or he is not satisfied with the quality of the shipment. A request for reinspection must be made within two working days of receipt of the lot, and the reinspection is to be carried out by an inspector as soon as possible, but no later than five days after receipt of the request. The inspector must carry out the reinspection as promptly and as thoroughly as possible.
For a reinspection, an inspector must:
- Get details of the complaint from the purchaser and acquire necessary shipping documents including a copy of the contract when available (especially if size is the complaint, size should be indicated on contract).
- Be able to assure the continuity of identity of the shipment for which a reinspection has been requested. For example, if a bulk load of tubers has been transferred from the original carrier into pallet boxes, problems with identity (lot integrity) will be created, unless the inspector witnessed the transfer or other proof of identity can be established.
- Check tags.
- Take a random sample of the load. For bagged shipments, take samples from different pallets. The load should be sampled using a 1% sampling rate (see Section 8.5 of this chapter).
- Follow the tuber inspection procedures as discussed previously in this chapter and in PI-009: Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual. Destination tolerances provided in Appendix 1 of the Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual and Section 48 of the Seed Regulations Part II should be used.
- Record the results on the Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Report (CFIA/ACIA 3076) under reinspection.
8.8.2 Reinspection Procedure - Frost Damage
An example of a situation of where a reinspection may be called for is in the case of frost damage. Where indications of frost are evident to the purchaser and a request is made to assess the shipment the inspector must:
- If accessible, examine the carrier for incidence of frost in the load or in the vehicle, check if the carrier was heated, inspect Temperature (Ryan) recorder, record temperature inside and outside the vehicle and take several tuber pulp temperatures from various locations in the load.
- Determine the extent of the freezing by intensive sampling (i.e. is it localized or is it throughout the load).
- Examine doors and air strips around doors to establish possible entry of cold air.
- Let the potatoes stand if they are still frozen for at least one week to ten days (temperature 60°F (15°C) approximately) to determine final extent of damage.
- Examine the bags for wet spots (may be caused by previously frozen potatoes).
- Cut suspect tubers (internal graying will verify if they have been frozen or chilled).
- Calculate the percentage of affected tubers and record results on the reinspection section of the Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Report (CFIA/ACIA 3076).
- After inspection has taken place and the potatoes have warmed (15°C) for 7-10 days, they may be regraded for seed.
- A shipment which is out of tolerance should be detained and either returned to its origin or regraded to meet the tolerances. Once the shipment meets the tolerances it can be released from detention.
8.9 The North American Seed Potato Health Certificate (NASPHC)
The NASPHC is used by the CFIA to assign a class to an imported seed lot which is equivalent to a class established in the Seeds Regulations Part II.
A CFIA seed potato inspector must assign a seed class to imported field grown seed potatoes, as follows:
1. Identify the number of years the seed lot has been grown in the field. This is the generation number.
Do not rely on the class name for generations as they are not consistent from State to State and are not necessarily consistent with Canada's interpretation. For example, in many States the first generation in the field is the nuclear class and second field generation is called Generation 1.
2. Compare field readings of the lot with the tolerance for the equivalent generation.
- Generation 1 - Pre-Elite
- Generation 2 - Elite I
- Generation 3 - Elite II
- Generation 4 - Elite III
- Generation 5 - Elite IV
- Generation 6 - Foundation
- Generation 7 - Certified
Assign a corresponding class to the imported seed lot if the final field reading listed on the North American Certified Seed Potato Health Certificate meets the Seeds Regulationstolerances for that class. If the field readings exceed the tolerance for that class, compare to the tolerances of the next lower class, until the readings match the tolerance set under the Seed Regulations.
The class assigned shall be the highest class allowed according to the tolerances set by the Seed Regulations, but no higher than the equivalent number of generations.
E.g.: A seed lot from California is submitted for classification has a 0.3 mosaic field reading and is classed as Generation 3 (G3) by the State Certification Agency.
G3 in California represents a class that has been in the field for four years (N being the first field generation followed by, G1, G2, G3). This would be equivalent to Elite 3 (E3) in the Canadian Certification Program. The disease tolerance for viruses is 0.2; this does not qualify for E3. The best class that can be assigned to the lot is Elite IV (tolerance of 0.3 for viruses)
Appendix 8 - 1 Forms Used For Tuber Inspection
The following is a description of forms used by CFIA inspectors for tuber inspection. Sample forms follow.
- CFIA/ACIA 1278 - Special Permission for Sale of Seed Potatoes not Eligible for Official Tags
- A document granting permission to a seed grower for the sale of seed potatoes of any class having a single tuber damage or defect in excess of established standards. These defects are limited to mechanical and physiological damage. This option should be only used for varieties in short supply or other special situations.
- CFIA/ACIA 1327 - Phytosanitary Certificate
- A certificate completed by Program Officer, or designate, to certify that the plant quarantine import requirements of the importing country have been met.
- CFIA/ACIA 1347 - Permit Relating to Packing of Seed Potatoes
- A permit authorizing the packing and re-packing of seed potatoes.
- CFIA/ACIA 2100 - Seed Potato Ship Report
- A report summarizing the cargo exported by ship. A report is to be filled out for each vessel at dockside.
- CFIA/ACIA 2343 - Record of Bulk Movement for Seed Potatoes
- A permit authorizing the sale and transport of seed potatoes in bulk. This form is used to permit movement of graded stock in bulk.
- CFIA/ACIA 3076– Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Report
- This document is completed following the inspection of seed potatoes. Includes pathogen levels as well as qualitative information.
- CFIA/ACIA 3256 - Notice of Detention
- Used to hold plants and seed potatoes when shipments are not in compliance with the Plant Protection Act, Seeds Act and Seeds Regulations Part II.
- CFIA/ACIA 3257 - Notice of Release from Detention
- A notice is issued when corrective action has been implemented which satisfies the Plant Protection Act, Seeds Act and Seeds Regulations Part II.
- CFIA/ACIA 4378 - Certification of Authorization
- Permits the movement of seed potatoes of a non-registered variety for which a crop certificate has been issued, between farm units in Canada.
- CFIA/ACIA 4383 - Permit for Bulk Movement of Seed Potatoes for Packaging and Resale
- A permit authorizing the movement of seed potatoes that are sold in bulk for the purpose of packaging and resale and are not required to be graded by the grower. The packager must do the grading prior to packaging and resale.
- NACSPHC - North American Certified Seed Potato Health Certificate
- A North American Certified Seed Potato Health Certificate is used to substantiate the health status of a seed potato lot to which a crop certificate applies. The certificate is used for re-certification of seed lots between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico
For samples of the following forms, refer to PI-009 Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Manual
- Seed Potato Certification Tags: Nuclear Stock (CFIA /ACIA 5298), Elite (CFIA/ACIA 2113), Foundation (CFIA/ACIA 1370), Certified (CFIA/ACIA 2111)
- Attached to containers of seed potatoes to identify class, variety and lot.
- Seed Potato Tuber Inspection Report (CFIA/ACIA 3076)
- Used with all tuber inspections by CFIA inspectors to record the tuber conditions of the potato crop. Additional information and observations such as maps, diagrams, and narrative descriptions may also be noted on this form during harvest/bin inspections by the CFIA.
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