Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Meat Programs
1.6. Meat Programs Evaluation

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1.6.1. Meat Programs Inspection System (MPIS) Equivalence

Volume 1A, General provisions, of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, contains codex standard CAC/GL 026-1997, which provides Guidelines for the Design, Operation, Assessment and Accreditation of Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems.

The appendix to this standard sets out the Guidelines on Procedures for Conducting an Assessment and Auditing the Inspection and Certification Systems of Exporting Countries, focussing primarily on the effectiveness of the inspection and certification system in operation, rather than on specific commodities or establishments. See Chapter 11 of the MOP, Introduction, for more information.

1.6.2. Evaluation of the Canadian MPIS by Importing Countries

The National Export Programs specialist, Meat Programs Division, coordinates, with the assistance of the National Operations Coordinator, all visits in Canada of Official Representatives from importing countries. The frequency of these visits vary according to the risks assessed by the country in question, the equivalence of the systems, the self-assessments conducted by the country, the volume and nature of trade, the results of product inspections at the border, the number of previous visits to federally registered establishments eligible to export and historical considerations.

Any federally registered establishment may be sampled when system audits are conducted. However, where there is a list of eligible federally registered establishments, some establishments may be targeted for specific reasons or risks (e.g. the inspection results of exported meat products, follow-up visits, or other issues).

Protocol for the Visits at the Area Level

A system audit or specific verification plan is submitted to the Director, including the objective (system equivalence, eligibility list, specific issue, etc.)

1.6.2.1. United States of America

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), has a process for assessing the equivalence of the regulatory inspection systems of foreign countries (October 2003 edition: Process for Evaluating the Equivalence of Foreign Meat and Poultry Food Regulatory Systems - PDF (68 kb).

Under the USDA March 1999 protocol, a USDA auditor or team of auditors conducts an equivalence audit of the CFIA Meat Inspection Program every year. As part of the audit, the auditor visits CFIA headquarters in Ottawa, area offices, establishments, and laboratories, to gather information on the Canadian Meat Programs Inspection System and the application of USDA requirements.

See Chapter 11, section 11.7.3.6.6.1 U.S.A. of the MOP for the FSIS policy on establishments judged to be unacceptable or to which a notice of intent to de-list is issued.

The USDA auditor's information on each federally registered establishment visited are submitted along with the preliminary report and presented to the CFIA Director, Meat Programs, for comments. The FSIS Technical Services Centre providing external audits of foreign countries publishes the final report.

1.6.2.2. European Union

Canada reached an agreement with the European Union on March 18, 1999 regarding sanitary measures to protect public and animal health in respect of trade in live animals and animal products.

The agreement establishes a mechanism for the recognition of equivalence of sanitary measures maintained by the two parties. The two main components concern the criteria for recognizing equivalence and the means of facilitating assessment thereof through audit and verification procedures.

In practice, the European Union allows the CFIA to recommend federally registered establishments eligible to export to the EU, with the subsequent possibility of auditing them later (see Chapter 11 of the MOP, EU inspection and audit).

The European Union also has an external audit service for foreign countries (Food and Veterinary Office)

1.6.2.3. Other Countries

Other countries have their own specific audit/verification requirements (see Chapter 11 of the MOP for specific country requirements). In general, the procedures for foreign audits from other countries is similar to that indicated for the United States. The choice of establishments to be inspected is made by the representatives of the foreign country's official inspection agency.

1.6.3. Evaluation of MPIS in Countries Exporting to Canada

In order to maintain the security of Canada's food, the CFIA gives access to imported meat products under section 9 of the MIA, defining standards as required, to meet the appropriate level of sanitary protection for Canadians.

See information on the Canadian Meat Inspection Systems Evaluation Program.

1.6.4. Health Canada Food Safety Assessment

The CFIA Audit, Evaluation and Risk Oversight (AERO) Branch coordinates related activities with Health Canada.

Pursuant to subsection 11(4) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, the Minister of Health is responsible for establishing policies and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada, and, under the Health Canada policy respecting the Food Safety Assessment Program, which assesses the effectiveness of Agency activities related to food safety.

See information on Food Safety Assessment Reports.

1.6.5. Internal Audit and Corporate Evaluation of the Meat Programs

The Audit, Evaluation and Risk Oversight (AERO) Branch strengthens the CFIA's accountability, resource stewardship and good governance by providing strategic leadership and direction in program evaluation, corporate audit, and risk management oversight.

By conducting regular audits and evaluations, AERO contributes to sound CFIA management by providing advice and management accountability, coordinating and liaising with the Office of the Auditor General and Health Canada on all ongoing external audits and assessments.

In addition, AERO is the internal mechanism through which employees can disclose, in good faith and without fear of reprisal, information concerning wrongdoing within the CFIA.

From a governance perspective, AERO reports to and takes direction from the Audit Committee, the decision-making body that provides advice to the CFIA Executive Committees on policies and strategies for corporate audit.

See information on Audits, Reviews and Evaluations

1.6.6. Auditor General of Canada CFIA Verification

Pursuant to section 32 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act the Auditor General examines financial statements, assesses the fairness and reliability of the Agency's performance as set out in its annual report, and provides a report on his or her audit, opinion and assessment. AERO coordinates related activities with the Auditor General of Canada.

The Auditor General Act directs the Auditor General to address the following questions:

  • Is the government presenting its financial information accurately?
  • Did the government collect or spend the authorized amount of money and for the purposes intended by Parliament?
  • Were programs run economically and efficiently? And does the government have the means to measure their effectiveness? Has sufficient consideration been given to environmental consequences?

For more information see the Office of the Auditor General Web site.

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