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Using data to make a difference in inspection planning

April 2019

Three people walking around during an inspection in an establishment

Risk-based decision making is at the core of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) everyday work. In a world of changing risks, innovation and new technology, the Agency is improving its ability to effectively gather, analyze, and use data in our decision-making process. By leveraging risk information through analytical tools, we are able to develop tactical work plans that guide inspection activities in a more consistent and efficient way while targeting areas with the greatest risk.

CFIA developed the Establishment-based Risk Assessment (ERA) model to do just that. The ERA model uses data and a mathematical algorithm to evaluate food establishments and determine the level of risk they represent to Canadian consumers. This information is then used as an input into the design of a risk-based workplan for inspectors.

Capturing data through My CFIA – the role you play

With the government of Canada as a whole working towards a digital-first approach to offering services to the Canadian public and Canadian business sectors, we at CFIA are playing our part by not only providing access to a range of services and information through our online service platform, My CFIA, but by making better use of the data we gather.

Through My CFIA, businesses can now input information related to all food related activities conducted at the establishment identified in the Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) Licence through their My CFIA online account(s), including additional establishment information. Inputting this information about your operational activities and mitigation measures will help CFIA assess the level of food safety risk for your establishment.

So you just received your Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) Licence

If you just received your new SFC Licence in My CFIA, as the Party Profile Manager you will see a prompt in the system to fill out "additional establishment information." We recommend that quality assurance employees/specialists for your establishment provide this information that will assist CFIA in determining appropriate oversight of your food related activities. You will be asked questions about topics such as food safety risk mitigation approaches that you implement at your establishment(s), and other operational activities.

This "additional establishment information" is used to populate the ERA model and assign your establishment a risk level. If your establishment has effectively implemented the mitigation measures and is in excellent compliance with the Agency, this may lower your risk level. A low risk level may lower the frequency and the intensity of future inspections, possibly reducing the time it takes to inspect your facility. Fewer inspections can mean freeing up your time so you can focus on being competitive in Canada and around the world. If the information is not provided, your licence may be placed in an unassessed category which could increase the extent and frequency of an inspection related to your licence.

When is all of this happening?

Once you receive your SFC Licence, you will be able to enter your "additional establishment information" at any time in My CFIA. CFIA is integrating the data collected through My CFIA into the ERA model and using it to inform program design and planning on a commodity-by-commodity basis, starting later in 2019. Make sure that you update information on your operational activities and risk mitigation measures as changes occur to ensure that you always have an accurate risk level for your establishment.

Learn more

My CFIA User Guidance

Additional establishment information in My CFIA

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