Final Report of an Audit Conducted In Four European Union Member States February 3rd Through February 21st, 2014
Evaluating The Food Safety Systems Governing The Production of  Beef And Beef Products For Export To Canada

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Special Terms Used In the Report

BSE
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
CA
Competent Authority
CAR
Corrective Action Request/Report
CCA
Central Competent Authority
CCP
Critical Control Point
DG
Director General
CFIA
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
DAFM
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Central Competent Authority in Ireland)
DDPP
Directions départementales de la protection des populations (France)
DGAL
« Direction Générale de l'Alimentation » (Central Competent Authority in France)
DVPHFSCBHP
Department of Veterinary Public Health, Food Safety and Collegial Bodies for Health Protection (Central Competent Authority in Italy)
E. coli
Escherichia coli
E. coli O157
Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Escherichia coli O157/NM, enterohaemorrhagic, shiga toxin producing strains of Escherichia coli.
EC
European Commission
EU
European Union
FVO
European Commission Directorate General for Health & Consumers – Food and Veterinary Office
GHP
Good Hygiene Practices
GMP
Good Manufacturing Practices
HACCP
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
OIE
World Organization for Animal Health
OV
Official veterinarian
NFA
National Food Agency (Central Competent Authority in Sweden)
MS
European Union Member States
MOP
Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures
Salmonella
Salmonella spp.
SANTÉ
European Commission Directorate General for Health & Consumers
SRM
Specified Risk Material
SOP
Standard Operating Procedures
SSOP
Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures
VIC
Veterinarian in Charge

Executive Summary

This report describes the outcome of an on-site audit of the European Union (EU) beef inspection systems that was conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) from February 3rd to February 21st, 2014.

This audit had two main objectives:

  1. To conduct an assessment of the beef inspection systems in the EU. The goal was to verify that each member state (MS) continues to maintain a food safety system for beef that is equivalent to that of Canada with the capacity to produce products that are safe, unadulterated, and properly labelled.
  2. To evaluate the programs and controls implemented in the EU to determine if exports of beef meat products to Canada can be resumed. This included the review of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Specific Risk Materials (SRM) controls and microbiological controls, especially as it relates to E. coli O157.

The audit scope included ten (10) beef slaughter establishments located in four different MSs, namely France, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. Additionally, the CFIA auditors visited central competent authority (CCA) headquarters in each MS.

Determinations concerning the effectiveness of the MS's food safety systems were conducted by the evaluation of the performance within the following six key areas:

  1. Competent authority and official controls;
  2. Slaughter/processing controls, including animal welfare controls;
  3. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, including the development, implementation and maintenance of HACCP plans, pre-requisite programs and sanitation controls;
  4. BSE/SRM controls;
  5. Microbiological controls, including the testing program for E. coli O157; and
  6. Chemical residues controls.

Overall, the audit showed that food safety systems in the EU MSs are performing as intended in an adequate manner and generally demonstrate an acceptable implementation of controls for all areas described above except for implementation of controls over E. coli O157 in raw beef products. Multiple audit findings in one establishment located in one of the MSs indicate a need for improvement of CA oversight related to HACCP Systems. The CFIA requests the CCA to follow up on all deficiencies noted in this establishment and provide the CFIA with corrective action plan developed and implemented by the operator. The CFIA also requests the CCA to verify if this action plan has been implemented and is effective in addressing all findings.

In other establishments visited, issues relative to each different key area were found. The CFIA would request the competent authorities in 4 MSs to take appropriate actions to fix those issues in all establishments under their supervision.

Overall, the auditors determined that there is a scope for improvement in the implementation of Slaughter/processing controls, HACCP Systems and SRM removal. As these findings appear to be systemic, the CFIA requests the Director General of the European Commission Directorate General for Health & Consumers (DG-SANTÉ) to make all MSs aware of these issues and ensure an appropriate follow up.

The audit process underscores the need for technical discussions to occur between the DG-SANTÉ and the CFIA before resuming the export of beef meat products from 19 EU MSs to Canada. Specifically, the following needs further discussion.

  • Canadian E. coli O157 policy requirements
  • Supervisory oversight in establishments
  • Chemical Residue Monitoring Program
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