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CFIA update on inspection services during COVID-19 pandemic

2020-03-18

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is closely monitoring the developments related to COVID-19 and is prioritizing the health and safety of its employees. The CFIA will continue to make adjustments in the coming days to fulfill its mandate of safeguarding Canada's food, animals and plants.

Further, CFIA employees, including inspectors, who are exhibiting any signs or symptoms of illness have been advised to stay home and will be excluded from all work activities including establishment inspections. The CFIA takes this situation seriously and has advised all employees that they have a duty to follow the guidance of health authorities to protect public health. If a business becomes concerned that a CFIA inspector has reported for work and is sick, or exhibiting symptoms he or she is sick, the business should contact the inspector-in-charge.

In line with public health guidance, the CFIA has suspended all non-essential work travel outside of Canada and if employees have travelled outside of Canada they have been advised to stay home and self-isolate for at least 14 days.

The CFIA recognizes the importance of domestic production as well as imports and exports of food, plants and animals. The Agency is committed to maintaining critical inspection services and continues to further define plans and mitigation measures to address potentially increasing inspector absenteeism.

This situation highlights the importance of continued collaboration and communication between CFIA and industry. As this situation continues to evolve based on the latest information from public health authorities, the Agency asks for your continued patience, collaboration and flexibility.

Food safety

The CFIA has strong measures in place to ensure the safety of Canada's food supply. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. The Agency continues to monitor the current situation closely in collaboration with our federal, provincial, territorial and international partners. If the CFIA becomes aware of a potential food safety risk, appropriate actions will be taken to protect Canada's food supply.

Imports and exports of food to and from Canada are not currently affected. Should the situation change, the CFIA will keep industry updated and share information as it becomes available.

All Canadian federally licensed establishments adhere to rigorous, internationally accepted standards and food safety requirements including strong sanitation and hygiene requirements.

The World Health Organization has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on the need for all Canadians to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.

For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit canada.ca/coronavirus.

Plant and animal health

There is currently no evidence to suggest that this virus is circulating in animals in Canada. Imports and exports of plants and animals to and from Canada are not currently affected. As more information becomes known, the CFIA will take any necessary action to protect the safety of Canada's plants and animals.

As always, producers should follow normal biosecurity measures by continuing to consider the potential risks associated with various people entering their business premises and implement measures to manage these visits.

For more information on on-farm disease prevention, producers are encouraged to consult the National Biosecurity Standards and Biosecurity Principles and National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide.

Additional information is available from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) (questions and answers on COVID-19).

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