Food Investigation Response Manual
Appendix 1A - Definitions

Area of Concern
is the specific nature of an issue, i.e. non-declared allergens, microbiological contamination, chemical contamination, tampering, nutritional concerns, inaccurate labelling or net weight declarations, etc.
means taking appropriate measures/actions on the affected product to bring it into compliance without its physical removal to some other location.
is an abnormal situation which requires prompt action beyond normal procedures to limit damage to persons, property or the environment.
includes any article manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human beings, chewing gum, and any ingredient that may be mixed with food for any purpose whatsoever, under the Food and Drugs Act.
Food Emergency
is broadly defined as any situation involving or potentially involving food which may pose a high health and safety concern to humans. Emergencies usually involve significant resources and require the coordination of a timely and/or extraordinary operational response.
Food Investigation
is broadly defined as an investigation of either a food safety or non-food safety issue.
Food Recall Warning
is a warning to consumers advising them not to consume a recalled product that poses a health risk (except allergens).
Food Recall Warning (Allergen)
is a warning to consumers advising them not to consume a recalled product because it may contain an undeclared allergen.
Food Safety Investigation
is an investigation into a food safety related issue. It is not a regulatory investigation which is conducted in response to non-compliance in order to recommend further compliance measures or enforcement action. A food safety investigation includes inspection and related activities undertaken by regulatory officials to verify whether or not a food hazard, which could cause human illness, exists. It is also to determine the nature and extent of the problem, which includes the determination of whether there is additional affected product that may be on the market, i.e. scoping.
Food Safety Warning
is a warning to consumers of a health and safety issue where there is no recall. This is for situations in which a recall has not yet been conducted or cannot be conducted. The decision to prepare these documents is made by the Food Safety Communications Manager with input from OFSR, Media Relations and the Executive Director, Public Affairs. Advice will also be sought from Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
General Advisory
is generally issued by a program when the consumers should be made aware of an industry wide issue or of safety recommendations pertaining to a commodity.
Health Risk Assessment
is a scientifically based process which determines the likelihood that a specific adverse effect will occur in an individual or a population, following exposure to a hazardous agent. The following steps are used in the development of a Health Risk Assessment: 1) hazard identification; 2) hazard characterization; 3) exposure assessment; and 4) risk characterization.
is an incident that requires documentation and/or investigation into food safety, quality, labelling or fraud concerns within the CFIA's program's priorities and mandate.
Mandatory Recall
refers to a recall as per Section 19 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act.
Notice of Recall
means a notice that is issued by the recalling firm to its accounts to inform them of the product recall, identify the product to be recalled and provide instructions on disposition of the recalled product.
refers to any food that is or may be the subject of trade or commerce.
Product Withdrawal
means a firm's removal from further sale or use of a marketed product that does not contravene a legislation administered or enforced by the CFIA. It is not considered to be a recall.
Public Warning
is the communication document issued by the CFIA to inform the public of various health and safety concerns. Public warning documents include Food Recall Warnings, Food Recall Warnings (Allergen), and Food Safety Warnings.
Recall (verb tense)
means for a firm to remove from further sale or use, or to correct, a marketed product that poses a risk and/or contravenes a legislation administered or enforced by the CFIA.
Recall (noun tense)
denotes the process of recalling the affected product and encompasses all tiers of the affected product distribution system.
Recall Incident
is the initial recall situation (primary recall) that may lead to additional recalls (secondary) related to the original issue. The initial recall incident and secondary recalls have common factors such as product, cause, process deviation, etc. The cause or trigger of secondary recalls is the original recall incident. E.g. an out of country manufacturer recalls product that was shipped to multiple Canadian importers.
Recall Classification
refers to the numerical designation, i.e. Class I, Class II or Class III, assigned by the OFSR to a particular product recall to indicate the relative degree of health risk presented by the product being recalled.
  1. Class I is a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
  2. Class II is a situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a product may cause temporary adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
  3. Class III is a situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a product is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences; the product is in contravention of an Act or Regulation enforced by the CFIA.
Recall Depth
refers to the level to which a recall is conducted (i.e. consumer, retail, distribution).
Recalling Firm
denotes a responsible firm that is accountable for the implementation of a recall.
Recall Plan
means a planned course of action in conducting a specific recall prepared and executed by the recalling firm under CFIA supervision.
Recall Verification
denotes the monitoring conducted by the CFIA of the effectiveness of a recall.
Responsible Firm
is the manufacturer, importer, distributor and/or vendor who sells, markets, and /or distributes the affected product and is subject to compliance with all or part of the recommended risk management strategy(ies).
Root Cause Analysis
refers to the determination of the original source or reason of the food contamination or hazard (e.g. inadequate sanitation, failure of process, etc.).
Root Source
is the responsible firm where the issue originated or the firm responsible for the importation of the affected product. Not every recall may have a domestic root source, e.g. direct shipment of imported affected product from a foreign distributor/manufacturer to customer.
is a part of the food safety investigation process in which CFIA staff determine if there is any other additional affected product on the market beyond the product initially investigated or recalled.
Stock Recovery
means a firm's removal or correction of a product in contravention that has not been marketed or that has not left the direct control of the recalling firm. It is not considered to be a recall.
Suspect Product
refers to the product which triggers the food safety investigation or the product which through further food safety investigation has determined to be the most likely cause of the issue.
is any specific source of information that prompts CFIA staff to initiate a food safety investigation, e.g. a laboratory analysis, a consumer or trade complaint, a referral from another government department, an inspection finding, a report from a foreign government, a manufacturer-initiated product action or withdrawal, epidemiological evidence, etc.
includes retailers, distributors and institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
Product in Contravention
is product that contravenes a legislation administered or enforced by the CFIA.
Voluntary Recall
means a recall that is initiated and carried out by the recalling firm without ministerial order.
Date modified: