Final Report of an Audit Conducted In Argentina September 9th, through September 25th, 2013
Evaluating the Food Safety Systems Governing the Production of Beef And Poultry Meat Products Intended for Export to Canada

5. Main Findings Concerning Government Oversight

Canadian import eligibility requirements dictate that the foreign inspection system be organized and administered by the national government of the foreign country and provide standards equivalent to those of the Federal system of meat and poultry inspection in Canada. In the case of Argentina, the authority to enforce inspection laws is exercised through the National Service for Animal Health and Agro-Food Quality (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria, SENASA). The legal requirements and policies are written in the Decrees, Service orders and Circular Letters.

In addition to official inspection staff, SENASA permits the use of auxiliary personnel to perform post mortem inspection in poultry and beef slaughter establishments. Auxiliary personnel are company employees who conduct inspections under the direct supervision of SENASA, and they receive the same training as official inspection staff. The auxiliary personnel are not accredited i.e. they are not required to pass a written test before performing inspection duties, but they are continuously supervised by SENASA officials to ensure that they are effectively performing their work. In addition, they may be interviewed by SENASA to ensure that they understand their tasks.

Supervisory visits take place on a monthly basis in all slaughter plants. The report is signed by the Veterinarian in Charge (VIC) and plant management, and a copy is provided to the operator, the SENASA supervisor, Regional Office, and VIC. During the monthly visit, the supervisor conducts a plant tour with the VIC to review the plant operations and to discuss any outstanding issues. The rating on the supervisory report is acceptable, marginal, or not acceptable. In addition to the monthly supervisor's visit and report, staff from the headquarter's office in Buenos Aires also audit the establishment and SENASA staff on a yearly basis.

All non-compliances at the plant are recorded by SENASA on the Report of Official Control, and the corrective actions and signatures of the responsible individuals are also recorded on this document.

Although the CCA maintains the legal authority and the responsibility to enforce all applicable laws and regulations governing Argentinian and third-country requirements, it was observed that these requirements were not consistently applied throughout the system. Despite the issues identified during the audit at the various establishments relating to sanitation and slaughter/processing controls, SENASA specialists and local inspectors reacted appropriately to situations of non-compliance. SENASA specialists and inspectors worked cohesively to ensure that issues were handled promptly and effectively at the establishment, and inspectors were able to convey their knowledge and understanding of the expected roles and responsibilities of their position. Overall, the competence demonstrated by inspection staff indicated that SENASA's system for inspector training and periodic reviews is sound and effective.

Export certification is carried out in a manner different to that of the CFIA, and involves the issuance of a temporary certificate at the originating establishment which is exchanged for the final official certificate when the cargo is confirmed to have been transferred on-board the vessel. This process may change in the future when Argentina fully converts to electronic certification which is currently being tested under a pilot project in a number of official SENASA establishments. It is worth mentioning that the date on the final export certificate is the date the product is loaded on the ship, and that SENASA has control of the product up to this time. As in Canada, the main responsibility for meeting export requirements rests with the processing plant and penalties are applied in cases of non-compliance.

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