Code of Practice for Minimally Processed Ready-to-Eat Fruit and Vegetables
Part II Pre-Requisites

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1. Processing Establishment

1.1 Location

Establishment should not be located in areas where the presence of potentially harmful substances would lead to unsafe finished product.

Potential sources of contamination need to be considered when deciding where to locate processing establishment as well as the effectiveness of any reasonable measures that might be taken to protect food. In particular, establishment should be located away or protected from:

  • environmentally polluted areas and industrial activities which could pose a risk of contaminating produce;
  • areas subject to flooding unless sufficient safeguards are implemented;
  • areas prone to infestation of pests or where wastes cannot be removed effectively.

1.2 Premises and Rooms

1.2.1 Design and Layout

Building interiors and structures should permit good hygienic practices, including protection against cross-contamination between and during operations.

1.2.2 Internal Structures and Fittings

Structures within a processing establishment should be soundly built of durable materials for proper maintenance, cleaning and, where appropriate, sanitation.

In particular the following specific conditions should be adhered to, where necessary, to protect the safety of food:

  • The surfaces of walls, doors, partitions and floors should be made of impervious materials with no toxic effect;
  • Walls and partitions should have smooth surfaces; Floors should be constructed and finished to allow adequate drainage and cleaning;
  • Ceilings and overhead fixtures should be constructed and finished to minimize the build-up of dirt, condensation, and where necessary, be protected to prevent the shedding of particles;
  • Windows should be accessible for cleaning, be constructed to minimize the build-up of dirt and where necessary, be fitted with removable and cleanable insect-proof screens. Where necessary, windows should be fixed;
  • Doors should be tight fitting, have smooth, non-absorbent surfaces, and be accessible for cleaning and, where necessary, sanitized.

1.2.3 Food Contact Surfaces

Food contact surfaces should be constructed of appropriate materials and be maintained in a manner to prevent contamination of food.

  • Equipment and containers coming into contact with food should be made of materials with no toxic effect, and where appropriate, designed and constructed to ensure that they can be adequately cleaned, sanitized and maintained.
  • Food contact surfaces should be located so as to prevent contamination (e.g. tables sufficiently above floor, equipment away from drains)

1.2.4 Lighting

Adequate natural or artificial lighting should be provided to operate in a hygienic manner.

  • The intensity of lighting should be adequate to the nature of the operation. Where appropriate, lighting fixtures should be protected to minimize the risk of produce contamination by breakage.

1.2.5 Air Quality and Ventilation

Adequate ventilation should be provided to prevent excessive heat, condensation, and to remove contaminated air and dust.

  • Ventilation should provide sufficient air exchange to prevent unacceptable accumulations of heat, condensation or dust. The ventilation system should prevent air flow from the most contaminated to the least contaminated areas.
  • Ventilation openings should be equipped with close fitting screens or filters to prevent the intake of contaminated air. Filters should be cleaned or replaced as appropriate.

1.2.6 Drainage and Waste Disposal

Adequate drainage and waste disposal systems and facilities should be provided to operate in a hygienic manner.

Drainage and waste disposal systems should be designed and constructed to prevent the contamination of produce and the potable water supply. Suitable provision should be made for the storage and removal of waste.

  • To avoid pest and minimize microbial contamination, waste should not be accumulated in produce handling and storage areas or the adjoining environment.
  • Storage areas for waste should be kept clean.

1.3 Sanitation Facilities

1.3.1 Employee Facilities

Employee hygiene facilities and toilets should be made available and be adequately maintained to prevent contamination.

  • Adequate and conveniently located changing facilities and toilets should be provided in proximity to the processing operation areas.
  • Facilities should provide adequate means to hygienically wash and dry hands, including wash basins, soap, disposable towels and a supply of hot and cold (or suitably temperature controlled) water.
  • Toilet facilities should be designed to allow hygienic removal of waste and be located to avoid contamination of produce or premises.
  • Toilet facilities should be maintained under sanitary conditions and good repair at all times.
  • Hand washing notices should be posted in appropriate areas and in the language of employees

1.3.2 Equipment Cleaning and Sanitizing Facilities

Equipment cleaning and sanitizing facilities should be adequately designed, constructed and maintained to prevent contamination.

  • Facilities and equipment should be designed for their intended use and be properly maintained and cleaned. They should be adequately separated from food storage, processing and packaging areas to prevent contamination.
  • Facilities and equipment should be constructed of corrosion resistant materials.
  • Facilities should be equipped with potable water at temperatures appropriate for the cleaning chemicals used.

1.4 Quality and Supply of Water and Ice

An adequate supply of potable water with appropriate facilities for its storage, distribution and temperature control should be available where appropriate.

  • Water should meet the requirements of Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. Water from sources other than municipal supplies must be treated as necessary by the processor. Water should be analyzed by the processor or municipality at a frequency adequate to confirm its potability.
  • There should be no cross-connections between potable and non-potable water supplies. All hoses, taps, or other similar sources of possible contamination should be designed to prevent back-flow or back siphonage.
  • Where it is necessary to store water, storage facilities and water storage tanks should be adequately designed, constructed and maintained to prevent contamination.
  • The volume, temperature and pressure of the potable water should be adequate for all operational and cleanup demands.
  • Water treatment chemicals, where used, should be accompanied by a "letter of no objection" from Health Canada, where necessary.
  • The chemical treatment should be monitored and controlled to deliver the desired concentration and to prevent contamination.
  • Recirculated water should be treated, monitored, and maintained as appropriate for the intended purpose. Recirculated water should have a separate distribution system which is clearly identified.
  • Ice used in an establishment, should be made from potable water and be protected from contamination.

2. Transportation and Storage

2.1 Temperature Control

The temperature of incoming fruit or vegetables and finished products should be appropriately controlled during transportation and storage to minimize the growth of pathogenic microorganisms.

Subsequent to the control of product temperature during processing, refrigeration of the finished product throughout its expected shelf life is recommended to minimize the growth of pathogenic microorganisms.

  • Temperature during transportation and storage should be controlled to maintain optimum storage conditions for incoming fresh fruit or vegetables and finished products.
  • All incoming ingredients requiring refrigeration should be transported and stored at 4°C or less.
  • Refrigeration facilities (transportation vehicles, storage rooms) should be equipped with temperature measuring devices, preferably recording thermometers. If recording thermometers are not used, maximum/minimum thermometers should be used to control and monitor temperature.

2.2 Conveyances and Containers

Conveyances and containers should not be a source of contamination.

  • Transportation and storage of food products should take place in conveyances and containers dedicated to food use only. When used for food and non-food loads, procedures should be in place to restrict the type of loads to those that do not pose a risk of contamination to foods in the same shipment or to subsequent food loads.
  • Conveyances and containers should be designed, constructed, maintained, cleaned and utilized in a manner to prevent contamination of food.
  • Conveyances and containers should be inspected prior to loading to ensure that they are free from visible debris, dry, clean and suitable for the transportation of food.
  • Conveyances and containers should be loaded, arranged and unloaded in a manner that prevents damage and contamination.

2.3 Incoming Ingredients, Packaging Materials and Finished Products

Incoming ingredients, packaging materials and finished products should be stored and handled in a manner to minimize spoilage, prevent damage and contamination.

  • Temperature of the storage rooms should be controlled to maintain optimum storage conditions (refer to section 2.1, Part II: Temperature Control).
  • "First-in-first-out" stock rotation should be practiced.
  • Allergen control plan should be in place to prevent cross contact with ingredients, packaging materials and finished products.

2.4 Non-Food Chemicals

Non-food chemicals should be received and stored in a manner to prevent contamination of food, packaging materials and food contact surfaces.

  • Chemicals should be received, stored and handled in dry, well ventilated areas and according to manufacturer's specifications.
  • Chemicals should be stored in designated areas such that there is no possibility for contamination of food or food contact surfaces.
  • Chemicals should be stored and mixed in clean, correctly labelled containers.
  • Chemicals required for use in food handling areas (e.g., conveyor lubricants) should be separated from food and stored appropriately to prevent contamination of food, food contact surfaces or packaging materials.

3. Equipment

3.1 Design and Installation

All equipment and utensils should be designed and constructed to permit effective cleaning and sanitation, and to prevent contamination.

  • Equipment should be designed, constructed and installed to ensure that it is capable of delivering the requirements of the process (e.g., refrigeration equipment).
  • Equipment should be accessible so that it permits adequate maintenance, cleaning, sanitizing, and inspection to prevent contamination of the product.
  • Equipment should be designed, constructed and installed to permit proper drainage and, where appropriate, should be connected directly to drains.

Refrigeration Equipment

  • Equipment used to cool product should be designed to achieve and maintain the required temperatures as rapidly as necessary. Such equipment should be designed to control and monitor temperatures.

Temperature Measuring Devices

  • Temperature measuring/recording devices should be installed, calibrated and maintained as necessary to ensure accuracy.

Magnets

  • Magnets should be installed in manner to effectively remove metal before or after certain operations (e.g., dicing, slicing or filling).
  • The strength of magnets should be appropriate to the need and should be tested as necessary.

Metal Detectors

  • Metal detection equipment should be installed, calibrated, maintained and operated in accordance with the manufacturer's manual to ensure effective removal of metals. This may include adjustment for the nature of the product, selection of target metal and size and timing of the reject mechanism.

Meters

  • Flow meters (e.g., chlorine feed rate meters, gas pressure meters, etc.) should be verified to ensure accuracy at the time of installation and thereafter.

Other Instrumentation

  • Other specialized instrumentation necessary for the control of critical factors should be in place and calibrated as necessary (e.g., chlorine injectors, chlorine concentration test equipment, pH meters).

3.2 Equipment Maintenance and Calibration

Maintenance and calibration programs should be in place to ensure that equipment performs consistently as intended and prevents contamination of product.

  • An effective written preventative maintenance program should be in place to ensure that equipment, which may impact food safety, functions as intended. This should include: records of equipment requiring regular maintenance; maintenance procedures and frequencies.
  • An effective written calibration program should be in place to ensure that equipment, which may impact food safety, functions as intended. This should include records of equipment requiring regular calibration, calibration methods, procedures and frequencies.
  • The maintenance procedures and frequencies should be based on the equipment manufacturer's manuals or on operating conditions that could affect the performance of the equipment.
  • Maintenance and calibration of equipment should be performed by appropriately trained personnel.

4. Personnel

4.1 Training

Personnel should be trained in personal hygiene and hygienic handling of food such that they understand the precautions necessary to prevent the contamination of food.

  • An effective written training program should be in place, including the appropriate records.
  • Appropriate training in personal hygiene and hygienic handling of food should be provided to all food handlers at the beginning of their employment.
  • The food hygiene training should be reinforced and updated at an appropriate frequency.

4.1.1 Technical Training

Personnel should be trained to have the adequate technical knowledge and understanding of the operations or processes for which they are responsible.

Training should be appropriate to the complexity of the process and the tasks assigned.

  • Personnel should be trained to understand the importance of the critical control points for which they are responsible, the critical limits, the procedures for monitoring, the actions to be taken if the limits are not met, and the records to be kept.
  • Personnel responsible for the maintenance of equipment impacting food safety should be appropriately trained to identify deficiencies and take the appropriate corrective action (i.e., in house repairs, contract repairs).
  • Personnel responsible for the sanitation program should be appropriately trained to understand the principles and methods required for effective cleaning and sanitation.

4.2 Hygiene and Health

Hygiene and health requirements should be followed to ensure that personnel who come directly or indirectly into contact with food are not likely to contaminate produce. Visitors should, where appropriate, wear protective clothing and adhere to the personal hygiene provisions of this section.

4.2.1 Cleanliness and Conduct

All persons entering food handling areas should take the appropriate precautions to prevent the contamination of food.

  • All persons should wash and sanitize their hands upon entering food handling areas, before starting work, after handling contaminated materials, after breaks, and after using toilet facilities.
  • Protective clothing, hair covering, footwear and/or gloves, should be worn and maintained in a sanitary manner.
  • Persons entering food handling areas should avoid behaviours which could result in the contamination of food, such as eating, using tobacco, chewing gum, or unhygienic practices such as spitting.
  • Persons entering food handling areas should not wear jewelry or other objects which could fall into or otherwise contaminate food. Jewelry which cannot be removed, including wedding bands or medical alerts, should be covered.
  • Personal effects and street clothing should not be kept in food handling areas.
  • The traffic pattern of employees should prevent cross-contamination of the product. Access of personnel and visitors should be controlled to prevent contamination.

4.2.2 Communicable Diseases and Injuries

Preventative measures should be in place to minimize the risks of directly or indirectly contaminating water, ice and food by persons with communicable diseases or injuries.

Persons known to be infected with diseases likely to be transmitted through food, or with open cuts or wounds, should not work in food handling areas where there is a likelihood of directly or indirectly contaminating food.

  • Supervisors should be trained to know typical symptoms and signs of infectious disease (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea).
  • Employees should inform management when they are suffering from symptoms of infectious disease likely to be transmitted through food.
  • Employees having open or infected cuts or wounds should not handle food or touch food contact surfaces unless the injury is completely protected by a secure waterproof covering (e.g., rubber gloves).

5. Sanitation and Pest Control

5.1 Cleaning and Sanitation Program

An effective sanitation program for equipment and premises should be in place to prevent contamination of food.

Cleaning and sanitation programs should ensure that equipment and all areas of an establishment are cleaned appropriately. Cleaning and sanitation programs should be reviewed regularly and modified as needed.

  • Written cleaning and sanitation programs should be followed for all equipment and premises (production and storage areas), including all work surfaces, walls and floors. The program should include but is not limited to: the name of the responsible person; the frequency of the activity; the procedures for cleaning and sanitizing; the chemicals and concentrations used; the temperature requirements; and the type and frequency of inspection to verify the effectiveness of the program.
  • Procedures for cleaning and sanitizing should identify areas, lines, equipment and utensils to be cleaned and inspected; disassembly/reassembly instructions required for cleaning and inspection; and appropriate methods of cleaning, sanitizing and rinsing.
  • All cleaning and sanitation chemicals should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and if necessary should be accompanied by a "letter of no objection" from Health Canada.
  • Cleaning and sanitation programs should be carried out in a manner that does not contaminate food, incoming ingredients and packaging materials during or following cleaning and sanitizing (e.g., aerosols, chemical residues).
  • The effectiveness of the sanitation program should be monitored and verified by pre-operational inspection of premises and equipment or, where appropriate, by microbiological sampling and testing. Operations should begin only after sanitation requirements are met. If required, cleaning and/or sanitation program(s) should be reviewed and adjusted accordingly.

5.2 Pest Control Program

An effective pest control program should be in place to prevent entry, eliminate pests, and to prevent the contamination of food.

  • A written pest control program for the premises and equipment should be followed. The program should include but not be limited to: the name of the responsible person; where applicable, the name of the pest control company contracted to administer the pest control program; the list of chemicals used and the concentrations; the location, the method and frequency of application; a map of trap locations; and the type and frequency of inspection to verify the effectiveness of the program.
  • Pesticides acceptable for use in a food facility should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and be registered under the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Pest Control Products Act and Regulations.
  • Treatment of equipment, premises or raw incoming fresh fruit and vegetables to control pests should be conducted in a manner to ensure that the maximum residue limit as listed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations is not exceeded.
  • Birds and animals should be excluded from establishments.

6. Recalls

6.1 Recall Program

An effective recall program should be in place to respond to food safety hazards.

A written procedure should be followed to enable traceback, traceforward and recall of any lot of product. Records should be available to provide necessary information to assist in the investigation and identification of any sources of contamination.

  • The written procedure should include but not be limited to: the persons responsible (e.g., recall coordinators); the roles and responsibilities for the coordination of a recall; the methods to identify, locate and control recalled products; the requirements to investigate other possibly affected products which could consequently be included in the recall; the methods used to identify the source of contamination; any corrective measures taken and procedure for monitoring the effectiveness of the recall (section 6.2, Part II).
  • The appropriate regulatory agency should be immediately notified (e.g., nearest CFIA inspection office). This notification should include, but not be limited to: the reason for the recall; the amount of implicated products produced, in inventory, and distributed; the name, size, code and/or lot numbers of implicated products; the area of distribution (e.g., local, national, or international).

6.2 Recall Capability

Recall procedures should be tested periodically to verify that accurate information is available on a timely basis for rapid identification and removal of all affected products from the market.

  • Periodic mock recalls should be conducted.
  • Records should be kept to determine the effectiveness of the mock recalls. Any deficiencies in the recall procedure should be identified and corrected.

7. Documentation and Records

Records that adequately reflect product information, programs and operational controls should be available to demonstrate the processing activities.

Water Quality and Supply Records

  • Records should be available to demonstrate the adequacy of the microbial and chemical safety of the water including: the source of water, its potability, method of water treatment, sample sites, analytical results, and date of analysis.

Temperature Control Records

  • Records of temperatures in all refrigeration facilities should be available. These should include: recorder charts or a daily log of maximum/minimum temperatures, the date and location where the temperature was recorded and the person responsible.

Equipment Maintenance Records

  • Records should include: identification of equipment; maintenance activity; the date of maintenance; person responsible.

Calibration Records

  • Records should include: identification of equipment; the date of calibration, person responsible; calibration results; and corrective action taken.

Cleaning and Sanitation Records

  • Cleaning and Sanitation records should include the date, person responsible, the post-inspection findings, corrective action taken, and microbiological test results, where appropriate.

Pest Control Records

  • Pest control records should include: results of the inspection programs and any corrective action taken; pest control activities (e.g., pesticide used, method and location of application, dates of treatments); date and person responsible.

Distribution Records

  • Distribution records should contain sufficient information to permit traceability of the product. Records should include: product identification and size; shipping dates; lot number or code; quantity; customers' names, addresses, and phone numbers to the initial level of product distribution.
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