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The Establishment-based Risk Assessment (ERA) model for food establishments

In a world of changing risks, innovation and new technologies, the CFIA is adapting to be more efficient and responsive. Risk based decision making is at the core of the Agency's everyday work and a strategic priority in our change agenda forward, Responding to Today, Building for the Future.

The CFIA has been evolving the way we manage risk, to further support industry's ability to compete globally, and embracing technology to provide more efficient and responsive services.

What is the Establishment-based Risk Assessment Model for food establishments?

The Establishment-based Risk Assessment (ERA) model for food establishments is a tool developed by the CFIA to evaluate food establishments based on the level of risk they represent to Canadian consumers. The ERA model uses data and a mathematical algorithm to assess the food safety risks of food establishments under CFIA jurisdiction. It takes into consideration risks associated with a specific food commodity, operation or manufacturing process, mitigation strategies implemented by the industry to control their food safety risks, as well as establishment compliance information. The ERA model will be used, along with other factors, to inform where inspectors should spend more or less time and inform program planning, in order to focus efforts on areas of highest risk.

How does the ERA model for food establishments work?

The ERA model for food establishments uses scientific data and establishment specific information gathered from the additional establishment information questionnaire provided to regulated parties in My CFIA in order to evaluate a facility and determine an establishment's level of risk. How often an inspection occurs will be guided by where a facility falls in the four categories of risk assigned by the ERA model. Higher risk establishments (categories 1 and 2) will require more oversight while lower risk establishments (categories 3 and 4) will require less oversight.

Using collaboration and innovation

The ERA model for food establishments was developed by CFIA staff in collaboration with experts from academia, industry and other government departments. The development of the model also drew upon experience in other countries that have used a similar approach to risk assessment, and considered scientific literature along with leading edge modeling technology.

The ERA model has already garnered attention on the international stage. Indeed, scientific journals dedicated to publishing the latest research on food safety and risk analysis such as Microbial Risk Analysis, Food Microbiology, Food Control and International Journal of Food Microbiology have published articles detailing the development steps of CFIA's ERA model.

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