January 22, 2019

Canada’s Food Inspection System Barely Passes USDA Audit

The Canadian food safety system has been given the lowest audit rating possible so it can still export food to the United States. The rating of “adequate” follows an on-site audit of Canada’s meat inspection system from October to November 2012. The results were just released to the public last month. These results mean that food coming in from Canada will be more closely inspected at the border.

Beef CarcassThe three grades in the audit system are “well-performing”, which is the best grade, then “average” and finally “adequate”. There are six components of the audit, including government oversight, statutory authority and food safety regulations, sanitation, hazard analysis and HACCP, chemical residues control program, and microbiological testing programs. The audit found that oversight of hazard identification, sanitation, and treatment of animals needed to improve.

The audit covered two red meat slaughter plants, four meat processing establishments making ready to eat products, and one egg processing plant. In addition, inspectors visited five government food safety agencies and two private labs which conduct testing for contaminants. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is taking corrective action.

One of the plants visited during the audit, XL Foods, which was involved in the largest beef recall in history last year, had lack of compliance with HACCP protocols. And there were problems with sanitation and humane handling of the animals at that plant. XL Foods was also the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada last year that sickened at least 18 people.

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