Notice to Industry - Enhancement to the management of the risks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Raw Oysters

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Ottawa, August 21, 2015 - In response to the recent increase in Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) illnesses associated with consumption of raw oysters harvested in British Columbia, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada are updating the food safety requirements for registered establishments in British Columbia that process oysters intended for raw consumption.

  • Effective immediately, an interim adjustment to the bacteriological guidelineFootnote 1 (end-product) for Vp will apply to British Columbia oysters intended for raw consumption. The updated guideline is identified below.
    Bacteriological guideline (end-product) for Vp
    Test OrganismProduct TypeNumber of sample unitsAcceptance number (c)m/gM/gCriteria for action
    Vibrio parahaemolyticus Raw Oyster 5 0 100 n/a Reject if any unit is equal to or exceeds m
  • Registered shellfish processors must be able to demonstrate, through laboratory test results, that each lot of oysters intended for raw consumption meets this interim guideline before release to the marketplace:
    • Lot testing consists of 5 sub-samples representative of the lot.
    • Analysis is to be conducted by a laboratory accredited for the method.
    • All final test results demonstrate Vp levels of <100 MPN/g in every sub-sample.
    • All sample results are provided to the local CFIA office.
  • Reject lots must be dealt with through the Quality Management Program (QMP) corrective action process and will be evaluated by CFIA on a case by case basis.
  • Shellfish processing establishments must continue to develop and implement appropriate validated control measures to ensure that oysters intended for raw consumption meet food safety requirements. This includes validating the effectiveness of time/temperature controls, testing and any other Vp control measures. Information on the validation of food safety control measures can be found on the WHO-FAO CODEX website (reference CAC/GL 69-2008) and in Appendix K of the CFIA Quality Management Program Reference Standard and Compliance Guidelines.

As part of its food safety activities, the CFIA will continue to verify the implementation of appropriate controls for Vp in oysters at federally registered shellfish processing establishments. This may include sampling and testing of products. Any samples found to exceed the new interim guideline will not be permitted for sale and will trigger a follow up investigation.

These measures will remain in effect until the illnesses associated with the current outbreak have subsided and the marine environmental conditions (water temperatures) are less favourable for Vp growth prior to harvest. Registered shellfish processing establishments will be advised when the temporary guideline is revoked.

For further information, please contact your local CFIA office.

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