2008-2009 Annual Report - National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program

Executive Summary

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for monitoring the food supply for chemical residues and contaminants, and determination of compliance with maximum residue limits (MRLs), tolerances and maximum levels established by Health Canada. This report describes the monitoring activities undertaken by the CFIA in 2008-2009 as part of the National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP).

The NCRMP has operated annually since 1978. Information obtained through this program enables the CFIA to verify compliance with Canadian standards and take appropriate action, as well as to identify trends over time, gauge the effectiveness of policies and programs, and develop strategic plans to minimize potential health risks to Canadians. The NCRMP sampling plans are developed in accordance with internationally accepted Codex Alimentarius principles and guidelines. Samples are analyzed for various chemical residues and contaminants using validated multi-residue and single residue methods by CFIA laboratories and accredited contract laboratories. The results are assessed for compliance with established Canadian standards; follow-up and enforcement action is taken as necessary.

In the context of the 2008-2009 NCRMP, over 160 000 tests for residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides, environmental contaminants, mycotoxins, and metals were performed on monitoring samples of domestic and imported dairy, eggs, honey, meat and poultry, fresh and processed fruit and vegetable commodities, and maple syrup. The results of the 2008-2009 NCRMP are summarized and discussed in this report.

All detected chemical residues or contaminants were evaluated to determine if they were compliant with Canadian standards. Overall, compliance rates were high for all commodities tested and the results observed were consistent with those seen in previous years. Similar results were observed for domestic and imported products, and there was no clear relationship between compliance rate and country of origin. Foods of animal origin (dairy, eggs, honey, meat and poultry) were tested for veterinary drug residues, and compliance rates ranged from 98.78 to 100%. The majority of violations observed were for commodity-drug combinations for which no MRL has been established. The compliance rate for pesticide residues in all commodities tested ranged from 98.80 to 100%. Most pesticide residue violations were associated with pesticides that did not have an established MRL. Only dairy products were tested for mycotoxins, and the compliance rate was over 99%.

All violations were assessed to determine the appropriate follow-up action. These actions may include notification of the producer or importer, follow-up inspections, further directed sampling according to a surveillance plan, or even recall of products if Health Canada determines that the product could pose a health risk to consumers or certain segments of the population. Follow-up actions vary according to the magnitude of the health risk, with the objective of preventing any repeat occurrence or further distribution of the product in the marketplace.

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