Inspection Verification Office (IVO) Annual Report – 2015-2016

April 1, 2015 ─ March 31, 2016

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Purpose of this Report

3.0 Verifications, Trends and Improvements

1.0 Introduction

The Inspection Verification Office (IVO)

Although Canada's food inspection system is already among the best in the world, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is committed to continually improve and strengthen its processes and services.

To further this objective, the Inspector General Office (IGO) was created in 2014 to develop and maintain an internal quality system within the CFIA Operations Branch. The system is called the Operations Branch Excellence System (OBES). The Inspector General oversees the two main functions of the OBES: the Inspection Verification Office (IVO) and the Technical Assessment Component.

The IVO operates as an independent oversight entity mandated to verify how CFIA inspection activities are delivered in federally registered establishments across the country. This is why the Inspector General is reporting directly to the Vice-President of the Operations Branch, independent from the Inspectorate that delivers inspection activities. The IVO is made up of:

  • Inspection Verification Teams (IVTs) that are formed from a group of 30 experienced inspectors, supervisors, program officers, veterinarians, etc.;
  • a management team; and
  • analytical and administrative support functions.

Inspection Verification Teams (IVTs)

The IVTs conduct unannounced inspection verifications in federally registered food establishments across the country. The establishments are selected based on a pre-determined set of risk criteria. The criteria are designed to be flexible enough to provide a broad sample of how inspections are delivered in different type of establishments.

The IVTs observe and evaluate how inspections are carried using standardized assessment criteria that cover a wide range of inspection activities and related functions. The inspection verification process consists of the following steps:

  • review of inspection records;
  • on-site visit with CFIA inspection staff at the registered facility;
  • interviews with the CFIA staff associated with the inspection activities carried out at the registered establishment; and
  • meetings with regional management to explain the process and present the inspection verification observations.

IVO Objectives and Goals

The main objectives of the inspection verifications are to validate that inspection activities are consistently delivered in federally registered establishments across the country and that the inspection program objectives are met. Through the inspection verification process, the IVTs:

  • verify that operational guidance is adhered to and that inspection activities are conducted with thoroughness;
  • identify potential areas for improvement within the inspection system;
  • note best practices that could be shared and implemented across the inspectorate at the national level; and
  • verify that inspection personnel have access to the proper tools and equipment to effectively and productively deliver their inspection activities.

Inspection Verification Report (IVR) & Management Review Action Plan (MRAP) Process

Once the inspection verification is completed, an Inspection Verification Report (IVR) which summarizes the IVT's observations is provided to the Regional Chief Inspector (RCI). Best practices identified by the IVT are also documented in the IVR.

The RCI is responsible for determining the underlying root cause(s) of any concerns identified and for developing a Management Review Action Plan (MRAP) to address observations of a regional nature. The Area Chief Inspector (ACI) is responsible for the monitoring, verification and closure of MRAPs within their operational Area.

It should be noted that if a situation that could affect food safety is observed during the inspection verification process, appropriate action is immediately taken to maintain food safety.

Inspection Verification Outcomes

  • Timely improvements based on inspection verification observations.
  • More consistent delivery of quality inspection activities.
  • Senior management awareness of trends identified and areas where opportunities for improvement have been identified in the system.
  • Increased awareness of food safety culture among the inspectorate.

Reporting Structure

IVO reports include a trend analysis of the inspection verification observations which identifies potential improvement opportunities within the inspection system.

Observations are categorized by:

  1. Regional observation trends, which are addressed by the Regions and Areas.
  2. National observation trends, which are addressed by the Inspection Support Directorate (ISD).

2.0 Purpose of this Report

The purpose of this report is to present the results of the IVO's first full annual business cycle. It emphasizes the inspection verification activities conducted and provides a summary of the most common observations and trends, and actions taken to improve the inspection system.

3.0 Verifications, Trends and Improvements

Strategic Plan

The IVO has a three year strategic plan which defines the IVO priorities and objectives as well as the strategic actions for attaining these objectives. The IVO strategic plan is aligned with the Agency Long Term Strategic Plan.

During 2015-2016, the IVO delivered its first full business cycle. Over the course of the year, the IVO accomplished and delivered several activities to achieve its strategic plan objectives and targets.

  • Expanded inspection verifications from the meat and fish programs to all food commodities.
  • Introduced a Logic Model to measure performance.
  • Delivered IGO, IVO and OBES Office outreach activities to all Area and regional management teams and supervisors. These activities promoted open communication with the regional management teams and provided them with an understanding of IVO activities and processes and key emerging trends.

Inspection Verification Delivery

A total of 91 unannounced inspection verifications were delivered between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. These verifications were conducted in all Areas and across all food commodities.

Chart 1: Total per Area 2015-2016. Description follows.
Description for Chart 1: IVO - Total per Area 2015-2016

The total number of inspection verifications conducted per area is as follows:

  • Atlantic (13),
  • Ontario (24),
  • Quebec (21), and
  • West (33).
Chart 2: Total per Region 2015-2016. Description follows.
Description for Chart 2: IVO - Total per Region 2015-2016

The total number of inspection verifications conducted per region is as follows:

Atlantic

  • New Brunswick (4),
  • Nova Scotia (3),
  • Prince Edward Island (3), and
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (3).

Ontario

  • Central (7),
  • North East (6),
  • South-West (6), and
  • Toronto (5).

Quebec

  • Montreal East (5),
  • Montreal West (6),
  • Quebec (6), and
  • St-Hyacinthe (4).

West

  • Alberta North (7),
  • Alberta South (6),
  • BC Coastal (5),
  • BC Mainland/Interior (5),
  • Manitoba (6), and
  • Saskatchewan (4).

Inspection Verification Observations

For this reporting period, nothing the IVO observed had a negative impact on food safety.

A summary of the most common observations or trends during this reporting period identified opportunities for improvement in the following areas:

  • more accurate and complete documentation of inspection activities;
  • more closely following written inspection procedures; and
  • ensuring that all inspection tasks and activities are assigned the appropriate level of compliance.

Action Taken Regarding the Observations

The regional observations are addressed locally by the Regions and Areas. The national and systemic observations are addressed by the Inspection Support Directorate of the Operations Branch.

To address the regional observations, the RCIs have prepared MRAPs, and the action items have been or are being implemented at the regional level.

Out of the 91 Action Plans submitted to the IVO, 58 (64%) have already been completely implemented and the balance (33) are in the process of implementation. It should be noted that this closure rate includes recent verifications for which the MRAP actions are still being implemented or verified. In addition, long term actions take time to implement and as such, we expect the closure rate to be less than 100%.

To address the systemic observations, the following actions have been or are being implemented:

  1. The development of a supervisory oversight document for distribution and implementation by the meat sector supervisors in the field has been completed and in implementation. This will support inspectors in the delivery of their inspection activities and verify that they are consistently adhering to the written inspection procedures.
  2. A rewrite of the inspection procedures to follow when final notices of non-compliance are issued to operators to inform them that enforcement actions will be taken if they do not implement effective corrective actions within a given timeframe has been completed.
  3. The review of the Humane Transportation policy and programs at the slaughterhouse level to improve consistency and effectiveness across the country is being done.

The IGO will track the implementation of these recommendations and associated improvements.

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