Chapter 5 - Sampling and Testing
5.7 Compositional and process testing

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5.7.1 Introduction

Products for which a standard has been set under the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (Schedule I) or the Food and Drug Regulations are subject to random testing to ensure that the specified standards are being complied with.

The Guidelines for Additives, Compositional and Irradiation Sampling Plans in meat products are distributed at the start of the fiscal year together with the sampling plans. These documents indicate the date on which the sample is to be collected, the type of product, the sample number, and the lab to which the sample is to be submitted. There are plans for both domestic and imported products.

5.7.2 Nitrates/nitrites

5.7.2.1 Introduction

Cured meat products use sodium or potassium nitrite as a preservative, particularly to inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. It is usually added to the raw emulsion as potassium or sodium nitrate; bacterial fermentation and chemical reactions convert much of this to the nitrite form.

See also Chapter 4 of the MOP.

5.7.2.2 Sample selection

On the day indicated in the sampling plan, select a product for which nitrate or nitrite is one of the declared ingredients. Collect 500 g of the raw product after addition of the cure, either emulsion or pieces. Freeze the raw product to prevent microbial growth and ship frozen. Freezer packs should be included in the shipping container.

Submit the sample to the lab indicated in the annual guidelines and sampling plan.

Samples should be submitted through LSTS using form CFIA/ACIA 5164, Food Product Sampling Submission Form. Indicate in the label claim field of the LSTS form if the list of ingredients states nitrates, nitrites, or both. The sampling plan number is the fiscal year, followed by an underscore and "M104" (for domestic product) or "M105" (for imported product).

Please ensure that the form is completed in sufficient detail to permit a rapid and efficient identification of the production lot sampled. In the case of an unsatisfactory laboratory result, the submission form must provide Ottawa with all necessary product information to initiate a recall or follow-up investigation.

5.7.2.3 Follow-up

If the analysis of the raw product shows a total nitrate/nitrite (sum of the nitrate and nitrite levels) exceeding 200 ppm, or the finished product shows an unusually elevated level of nitrate/nitrite (over 70 ppm), review the company's formulation activities and related controls, and the status of the company's HACCP plan for nitrites. Re-sample to confirm that the product is in compliance.

5.7.3 Protein

5.7.3.1 Introduction

The Food and Drug Regulations and the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 set minimum protein levels for a variety of meat products.

5.7.3.2 Sample selection

On the day indicated in the sampling plan, collect a sample of the targeted product as specified in the sampling guidelines.

Samples should be submitted through LSTS using form CFIA/ACIA 5164, Food Product Sampling Submission Form. The sampling plan number is the fiscal year, followed by an underscore and "M122" (for domestic product) or "M123" (for imported product).

Please ensure that the form is completed in sufficient detail to permit a rapid and efficient identification of the production lot sampled. For imported products, the Import Inspection Report (IIR) number must also be entered in the "identification code" field.

In the case of an unsatisfactory laboratory result, the submission form must provide Ottawa with all necessary product information for the follow up investigation and in the case of imported products, to advise the foreign country.

5.7.3.3 Follow-up

If the analysis of the product shows a protein level below the acceptable minimum, review the operator's formulation activities and related controls. Then re-sample to confirm that the product is now in compliance.

5.7.4 Mechanically separated meat

5.7.4.1 Introduction

There are several methods of recovering edible product from bones. Depending on the method, this product may be termed mechanically separated meat (MSM) or finely textured meat. Such product is sampled for total protein, calcium, and bone particles, to ensure that the product meets the composition standards.

5.7.4.2 Sample selection

On the date specified in the sampling plan, collect 500 g of the raw product. Freeze it to prevent microbial growth, and ship frozen. Freezer packs should be included in the shipping container.

Ensure that the sample is shipped to the correct lab as specified in the sampling plan and guidelines.

Samples should be submitted through LSTS using form CFIA/ACIA 5164, Food Product Sampling Submission Form. The sampling plan number is the fiscal year, followed by an underscore, and "M110" (for domestic product) or "M111" (for imported product).

The form must be completed in sufficient detail to permit a rapid and efficient identification of the production lot sampled. For imported products, the Import Inspection Report (IIR) number must also be entered in the "identification code" field.

In the case of an unsatisfactory laboratory result, the submission form must provide all necessary product information for the follow up investigation and in the case of imported products, to advise the foreign country.

5.7.4.3 Follow-up

If any of the measured properties are out of compliance, review the operator's procedures, including the equipment adjustment. Re-sample to confirm that the product is now in compliance. Refer to Chapter 4 MOP for product disposition information.

5.7.5 Species verification

5.7.5.1 Introduction

Species verification is conducted to detect adulteration of meat products derived from one species with meat products derived from another species. An operator may make such substitutions fraudulently, in order to substitute a less expensive meat for some or all of the meat declared on the label. Adulteration may also occur accidentally due to improper cleaning of grinders or other equipment.

In addition to fraud, species adulteration may pose a health hazard through allergic reactions, or violate religious dietary laws of some population segments. Species verification has also been an important criterion in international trade.

Species verification sampling plans and guidelines are included with the annual Microbiology Sampling Plans.

5.7.5.2 Sample selection

All meat products of Canadian or foreign origin, received in registered establishments, where the meat product cannot be readily identified by visual inspection are subject to sampling. Products labelled as "100% pure" beef, pork, chicken, etc. should be targeted.

Species verification is customarily done on products in which the species cannot be readily determined by visual inspection, such as:

  • boneless beef, veal, mutton, lamb or trimmings;
  • ground meat such as ground beef, veal, pork, lamb, etc.;
  • mechanically separated beef, pork or chicken, etc.; and
  • processed products, cooked or cured, where meat from other species than those declared may be present.

Domestic and imported raw meat commodities to be subjected to species verification sampling.

Raw meats are sampled in accordance with plan M208 for domestic products and M210 for imported products.

Ready-to-eat meat products are sampled in accordance with sampling plans M209 for domestic and M211 for imported product.

To avoid contamination, peel the outer wrapper to expose a clean area for sampling from boxed meats.

Disinfect collecting equipment (drill, forceps, scalpel) by thorough cleaning, dipping in alcohol and flaming before taking sample, where applicable.

The inspector will submit a sample of at least 100 g for submission to the laboratory designated in the annual sampling plan. Samples for species verification may be shipped in the frozen state to the laboratory.

5.7.5.3 Testing

Submit samples for species verification to the laboratory assigned on the annual Microbiology Sampling Plan.

Samples should be submitted through LSTS using form CFIA/ACIA 5164, Food Product Sampling Submission Form. The form must be completed in sufficient detail to permit a rapid and efficient identification of the production lot sampled. For imported products, the Import Inspection Report (IIR) MCAP number must also be entered in the "identification code" field. Under "analysis requested", indicate "Species Verification". Under "submitter comments", indicate the species name (e.g. beef) that the product is purported to contain. Whenever possible, attach a label or photocopy of a label with an ingredients listed.

5.7.5.4 Follow-up

In the event that species verification testing on a domestic product finds the presence of a species which was not declared on the label, the inspector must take action in accordance with the appropriate CVS task. Where an imported meat product contains an undeclared species, the result must be reported to the Area Import Specialist.

The inspector should take compliance samples to ensure that the problem has been corrected.

5.7.6 Irradiation

5.7.6.1 Introduction

Food may be exposed to ionizing radiation for a variety of purposes, including:

  • improve the safety of food by reducing levels of pathogens associated with food-borne disease such as E. coli and Salmonella;
  • reduce microbiological growth causing spoilage and, thereby, extend shelf-life;
  • reduce insect infestation; and
  • delay ripening of fruit and vegetables.

Three different energy sources may be used: gamma rays, electron beams and x-rays. The sources of gamma rays are cobalt-60 and cesium-137.

The amount of radiation energy used or needed for a particular application varies depending on the food and the reason for irradiating. Typically, to increase shelf life or to prevent spoilage a low dose of irradiation is required, only 1 kilogray (kGy) of absorbed energy. To prevent food poisoning, the dose will depend on the type of bacteria being targeted and the type of food. An absorbed dose of up to 3 kGy is usually sufficient to kill Salmonella in fresh chicken. Generally, it takes higher levels of radiation to kill parasites and insects. Viruses, for the most part, are not destroyed by the irradiation levels that are suitable for use in foods.

Irradiation is regulated under Division 26 of the Food and Drug Regulations. Industry may make submissions to Health Canada to allow new uses of food irradiation. Health Canada will permit new uses of food irradiation only after a safety assessment, and only listed items may be irradiated.

Currently, this list includes:

  • potatoes and onions, to inhibit sprouting during storage, up to 0.15 kGy;
  • spices and dehydrated seasonings, to reduce microbial load, up to 10 kGy; and
  • wheat, flour and whole wheat flour, to control insect infestation, up to 0.75 kGy.

Irradiation of meat products is currently permitted in some other countries, but not for product imported into Canada. Therefore, imported meat products are monitored for indications of irradiation.

5.7.6.2 Sample selection

The test can be conducted on raw products (fresh or frozen) with high fat content, including ground meat and trimmings. Blocks of sample numbers are assigned to reinspection points where the appropriate type of product is received. Samples should be collected randomly throughout the fiscal year.

The sample selection procedures are described in the annual Guidelines for Additives, Compositional and Irradiation Sampling Plans in meat products.

5.7.6.3 Testing

Meat products are tested for irradiation under sample plan M127 (e.g. 2009_M127). Samples should be submitted through LSTS using form CFIA/ACIA 5164, Food Product Sampling Submission Form. The form must be completed in sufficient detail to permit a rapid and efficient identification of the production lot sampled. Enter the import control number in the "Import no." block and in the "identification code" field.

5.7.6.4 Follow-up

Any positive test is followed by intensified inspection. This means that the next 15 shipments of a weight at least equal to that of the shipment found in violation will be held and tested for irradiation. The exporting establishment has an option of having the product pre-tested, in an official laboratory.

5.7.7 Can integrity - imported (M206)

5.7.7.1 Introduction

Food preserved by canning has a shelf life of over two years. However, improper sealing of the cans, or improper thermal processing, can create conditions which permit bacterial growth inside the can. Of particular risk is Clostridium botulinum, whose growth and toxin production are favoured by the anaerobic environment inside the can and the lack of competing organisms.

5.7.7.2 Sample selection

Use the Metal Can Defects Manual as a reference. Samples are to be submitted in accordance with the annual Microbiology Sampling plan. Assigned samples under plan M206 may be selected from a shipment selected through the Import Control and Tracking System for full inspection. Randomly select 200 cans for visual inspection using "Low-Acid and Acidified Low-Acid Foods In Hermetically Sealed Containers - Visual Inspection Protocol". (See Chapter 10, Annex P-5). If any visual defect (major or minor) is detected, select ten cans (five with defects and five with no defects) and send them to the laboratory for container integrity and commercial sterility analysis. If visual defects are not detected, select 10 good order cans (with no visual defects) and send them to the laboratory.

5.7.7.3 Testing

Samples should be submitted using LSTS and form CFIA/ACIA 5164, Food Product Sampling Submission Form. The form must be completed in sufficient detail to permit a rapid and efficient identification of the production lot sampled. Enter the import control number in the "Import no." block and in the "identification code" field.

Samples are submitted to the laboratory assigned according to the annual Microbiology sampling plans.

5.7.7.4 Follow-up

Shipments for which can defects were identified during the visual inspection shall be detained pending laboratory results. The Chief, Import Programs, Meat Programs Division, should be notified immediately of unsatisfactory laboratory results.

If laboratory results are unsatisfactory for can integrity a minimum of ten subsequent shipments of similar products from the same foreign establishment will be subject to intensified inspection (surveillance inspection), which requires that they be detained pending the results of visual inspection and laboratory evaluation. For each shipment, randomly select 200 cans for visual inspection using the Visual Inspection Protocol. If any major visual defect is identified, select 10 cans (five with defects and five without) and send to the laboratory for evaluation. The specific testing requested will be determined by the Chief, Import Programs, following consultations with the Director, Food Microbiology and Chemical Evaluation.

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