The Government of Canada verifies that food produced and/or sold in Canada meets federal food safety standards to ensure Canadians have confidence in what they buy. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors and regulates food products that are produced domestically and moved inter-provincially, or are imported.
Within Canada, all food products must comply with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, which set out criteria for safe food and clearly prescribe restrictions on the production, importation, sale, composition and content of food.
The National Microbiological Monitoring Program (NMMP) is one of many tools utilized by the CFIA to verify that domestically produced and imported products meet Canadian standards. It is designed to sample and test a broad range of imported and domestic commodities for multiple hazards, including microbial hazards and extraneous material. The testing carried out under the NMMP covers red meat and poultry products, shell eggs and egg products, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables and processed fruit and vegetable products.
As CFIA focuses its monitoring activities towards specific food-related hazards that may impair the health and safety of Canadians, it is important to note that most testing is in commodities that are not further processed by the consumer as well as in raw food, that if not properly cooked, can lead to illness. It is generally accepted that proper precautions taken in the home will destroy any bacteria that may be present.
During the 2011/12 fiscal year under the NMMP, 14307 tests were performed on 5234 domestic and imported products. Specifically, 9049 tests were performed on 3678 domestic products and 5258 tests were performed on 1556 imported products to verify they were compliant with Canadian standards. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.0% compliant and imported products were 98.0% compliant. Overall, a 98.7% compliance rate for combined domestic and imported products was observed.
In addition to testing food products, wash water samples and surface swabs taken within the food production environment are used to verify that food products are produced under sanitary conditions. This type of environmental sampling was performed in domestic establishments to verify the operator systems’ ability to control the presence of pathogens within the processing environment. During 2011/12, there were 2300 tests performed on 1878 environmental samples which were assessed as 97.5% compliant.
The results of the 2011/12 NMMP sampling activities demonstrate that the products available in the Canadian marketplace are for the majority compliant with national standards.