Washington, D.C. – A recently released report by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) states that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) needs improvements in how it maintains equivalence with U.S. food safety standards.
“Evaluating the Food Safety Systems Governing the Production of Meat Products Intended for Export to the United States of America,” is the result of an on-site audit of seven Canadian processing facilities, two labs, and five government offices – including the CFIA – from Oct. 22 to Nov. 9, 2012. The audit focused on the ability of the CFIA to regulate red meat, poultry and egg products, and looked at performance in six areas: government oversight; statutory authority and food safety regulations; sanitation; HACCP systems; chemical residue control programs; and microbiological testing programs.
According to the report, the CFIA is doing an “adequate” job in meeting the requirements of these six components and maintaining equivalence with U.S. food safety standards. In particular, it points to improvements needed in oversight of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems (HACCP), sanitation and humane handling.
The rating is the lowest of three possible scores, which also includes “average” and “well-performing.”
However, the report does note that the CFIA is already working to improve compliance, and has “instituted long-term preventative measures to strengthen its establishment and system-wide regulatory oversight.” It adds that the agency “immediately implemented verification procedures and trend analysis of HACCP critical limit deviations,” and that “[The] CFIA is establishing an office to improve and further correlate activities and decisions made by all levels of its inspection program.”
If these actions continue to be effectively implemented,” says the report, “the system weaknesses should be remedied and equivalence maintained.”