Guidance for the Application of Health Canada's Policy on Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods
5.0 Product Risk Categories

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For the purposes of the policy, RTE foods have been classified into two categories, based on health risk. Industry is responsible for generating validation data (to be assessed by the CFIA) to support the risk categorization of their RTE foods, when applicable. If insufficient, inadequate or no data is provided, products are considered category 1 by default.

Category 1 RTE foods are those which can support the growth of Lm throughout the shelf life and should therefore receive a high priority for industry verification and control as well as regulatory oversight. This category also includes any other RTE products for which validation studies, when required, are insufficient, inadequate or not provided.

Category 2 RTE foods are subdivided into two subgroups:

  • Category 2A products can support limited growth of Lm (no greater than 100 cfu/g) throughout their stated shelf life. In addition, these RTE products:
    • Are known to occasionally contain low levels of Lm and do not have a kill step (validation studies required); and/or
    • Have a refrigerated shelf life of ≤ 5 days (validation studies not required).

These products should receive medium-to-low priority for industry verification and control as well as regulatory oversight;

  • Category 2B products do not support the growth of Lm throughout shelf life and should therefore receive low priority for industry verification and control as well as regulatory oversight. Validation studies are required for this category of products, unless products are frozen or meet the specified physicochemical properties (i.e., pH and/or aw) stated in the policy.

The table below provides some examples of product categorization within each program.

Examples of products
Program Category 1 Category 2A Table Note 1 Category 2B Table Note 1 Exempted Products
Dairy Cheeses, fluid milks, cultured dairy products n/a Ice cream, hard cheese (MFFB <50%) Milk and whey powders, canned milks (evaporated, sweetened and condensed), sterilized and Ultra-high temperature (UHT) milks
Egg Pasteurized liquid egg (whole egg, yolk and albumen), egg mixes, cooked egg products n/a Frozen egg (whole egg, yolk and albumen), Omelette blends (heated before consumption), boil-in-bag products, Dried egg (albumen, yolk and whole egg)
IMFP Intraprovincially traded RTE meats (deli meats, hot dogs, pâté), fish, dairy, as well as their analogues e.g., simulated meat, simulated dairy, etc. irrespective of trade (intra/inter provincial) with a shelf life of > 5 days without validation data Intraprovincially traded fresh-cut produce, RTE meats, fish and dairy with shelf life ≤ 5 days or validation studies required Intraprovincially traded ice cream, hard cheeses, dry salami/varieties of prosciutto etc., dry salted fish, refrigerated pickles, sauerkraut Cereals, dried herbs, dried spice mixtures, dry pasta, bread, etc.
Fresh Fruit & Vegetables RTE Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables with a shelf life > 5 days without validation data RTE Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables
(with shelf life ≤ 5 days or validation studies required)
n/a n/a
Processed Products n/a n/a Refrigerated pickles, olives, and sauerkraut, frozen fruit, and frozen vegetables without cooking instructions Maple products, hermetically sealed juices, fruit and vegetable products

Table Note

Table note 1

When validation data is required but data is insufficient, inadequate or not available, Category 2A and 2B products are considered Category 1 by default.

Return to table note 1  referrer

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