Executive Summary for System Performance Listeria Report
In the summer of 2008, the presence of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat caused a listeriosis outbreak, resulting in 23 deaths. Following an independent investigation, the Weatherill report spurred changes to the government's Listeria policy, development of new Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitoring plans, and increased sampling and risk based targeted monitoring efforts by the CFIA and industry.
The CFIA used a new approach, system performance, to determine how the Listeria system controls are working. System performance acknowledges that multiple players contribute to food safety and looks not only at the actions of the CFIA but also considers the actions of other players in the food system (for example, other government departments, industry and consumers) that is integral to achieving shared outcomes.
System performance builds on the more traditional performance measurement approach by combining CFIA's performance measurement data with information from external sources to
- i) identify how key risks are addressed
- ii) to tell an overall performance story and
- iii) identify gaps and potential areas for future action
In this assessment, the timeframe examined was fiscal year 2009 to 2010 , to fiscal year 2015 to 2016, and inspection and sampling data for RTE meat products and RTE non-meat products from the following commodities was used: fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, dairy, egg and fish and fish products was considered. Data was collected using three approaches:
- qualitative data obtained from discussions with CFIA, Health Canada (HC), Public Health Agency of Canada, and industry
- quantitative data from the CFIA and meat industry
- review of relevant publications/documents
The overall picture is one in which the objectives of the HC Listeria policy, in terms of the implementation of enhanced system controls, are being met:
- The qualitative data show that current industry and federal government systems are complimentary, and that both have appropriate controls in place to manage Lm risk
- The system is working; activities are appropriate and are being delivered by federal government departments and industry.
- The policy is widely accepted and there are no factors or conflicting initiatives which impede the success of the policy.
- The quantitative data show high industry compliance rates, with consistency between meat industry and CFIA datasets.
- The low occurrence of Lm in RTE-products at the retail level seems to corroborate high industry compliance rates.
Although the incidence rate of listeriosis in Canada has been relatively consistent over the time period in which the HC Listeria policy has been in place, it is difficult to link the actions of the various players to the incidence rate of listeriosis in Canadians.
While the system for controls for Listeria is working well, there are opportunities for improvement. Observations were made pertaining to federal government and industry actions in regards to: sampling, data collection, training, communication opportunities, how to better engage consumers and potential further investigations into the roots of imported and domestic product recalls.
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