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U.S. audit suggests Canada’s food inspections system need some tweaks

By Canadian Packaging staff   

Food Safety General and Egg Products Exported to the United States of America CCA Central Competent Authority Evaluating the Food Safety System Governing the Production of Meat Food Safety and Inspection Service FSIS poultry United States Department of Agriculture USDA

American audit says Canadian inspection of meats could lead to harmful transmission of pathogens like E. coli.

A recently released USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) report notes there are some issues in the way Canada inspects its meat that could pose a problem for its American consumers.

Based upon a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) onsite audit conducted from September 12-30, 2016 at seven slaughter and processing plants and other Canadian offices and facilities, the USDA says that the inspection system used by Canadian food inspectors for meat, poultry and eggs needs to be corrected—something that occurred previously after a 2014 audit, at which time Canada addressed different concerns.

This time, the audit, entitled “Evaluating the Food Safety System Governing the Production of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products Exported to the United States of America” says that Canadian inspectors may not have conducted complete carcass-by-carcass, post-mortem inspections to ensure processed meat was not contaminated by feces, milk or ingesta (feed or drink) before being stamped with a mark of inspection.

The reports points out that such contamination could lead to harmful pathogen transmission, such as E. coli.


The audit focused on six main system equivalence components:

  1. Government Oversight (e.g., Organization and Administration);
  2. Government Statutory Authority and Food Safety and Other Consumer Protection Regulations (e.g., Inspection System Operation, Product Standards and Labeling, and Humane Handling);
  3. Government Sanitation;
  4. Government Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) System;
  5. Government Chemical Residue Testing Programs, and;
  6. Government Microbiological Testing Programs.

In addition, the FSIS auditors verified that the corrective actions noted by the Central Competent Authority (CCA) in response to the 2014 FSIS audit findings had been implemented by Canada.

The FSIS auditors reviewed management, supervision, and administrative functions at the CCA headquarters, three regional offices, seven slaughter and processing establishments (two swine, two bovine, two poultry, one bovine/caprine), four processing-only establishments, one egg processing facility, one cold storage facility, and two laboratories to verify that the national system of inspection, verification, and enforcement is being implemented as required to maintain equivalence.

The FSIS auditors identified the following systemic findings and isolated findings:

Government Statutory Authority and Food Safety and Other Consumer Protection Regulations
The government inspectors may not have been conducting complete carcass-by-carcass post-mortem inspection to ensure freedom from contamination with feces, milk, or ingesta for reconditioned carcasses prior to applying mark of inspection.

Government Sanitation
In 11 of 13 establishments audited, FSIS observed findings related to requirements of Sanitation Performance Standards (SPS).

Government HACCP System
In two establishments, HACCP verification records did not include the result of the verification activities.

While the U.S. acknowledges that it and Canada had variations within its respective inspection systems, the audit report is a way for the two countries to better streamline their systems into a more singular one.

The results of this report had been handed over to Canada back in September of 2016, though the results had not been officially released until mid 2017.

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