Microbiology Annual Report 2012/13

Executive Summary

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 both domestically produced and imported products meet Canadian standards. It is designed to sample and test a broad range of imported and domestic commodities for microbial hazards of concern. 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 under the NMMP is done on commodities that are not further processed by the consumer as well as on raw foods that, if not properly cooked, can lead to illness. For food that is further processed, it is generally accepted that proper precautions taken in the home will destroy any bacteria that may be present.

During the 2012/13 fiscal year under the NMMP, 13237 tests were performed on 4980 domestic and imported products. Specifically, 8328 tests were performed on 3469 domestic products and 4909 tests were performed on 1511 imported products to verify they were compliant with Canadian standards. Results indicate that domestic products were 99.5% compliant whereas imported products were 99.0% compliant. Overall, a 99.4% 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 is performed in domestic establishments to verify the operator systems' ability to control the presence of pathogens within the processing environment. During 2012/13, there were 2563 tests performed on 1892 environmental samples which were assessed as 97.7% compliant.

The results of the 2012/13 NMMP sampling activities demonstrate that the majority of food products available in the Canadian marketplace were compliant with national standards.

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