Use of digital recording (Camera, Video, Audio) devices during inspections
Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.
On this page
- 1.0 Purpose
- 2.0 Target audience
- 3.0 Overview
- 4.0 Background
- 5.0 Authorities
- 6.0 Definitions
- 7.0 Acronyms
- 8.0 Operational guideline
- 8.1 Introduction
- 8.2 Biosecurity
- 8.3 When to take digital recordings
- 8.4 Preparing to use a digital recording device for an inspection
- 8.5 Taking digital recordings
- 8.6 Documenting digital recordings
- 8.7 Downloading, saving and storing digital recordings
- 8.8 Transporting, transmitting and printing digital recordings
- 8.9 Records retention
- 8.10 Sharing of digital recordings
- 8.11 The regulated party refuses to allow the taking of digital recordings during inspection
- Annex 1 : Digital recording device use flow chart
The purpose of this operational guideline (OG) is to provide guidance to inspection staff for taking and documenting, downloading, saving, transferring, sharing and retaining digital recordings created during inspection related activities.
This guidance will not provide information on digital recording devices used during investigations. You must contact Enforcement and Investigation Services (EIS) for guidance during investigations.
This guideline applies to digital recording devices issued by the CFIA.
Digital recordings must not be taken with personally owned devices.
2.0 Target audience
This document is intended for use by all CFIA employees who perform inspection related activities, their supervisors and managers.
Inspections are conducted to evaluate compliance and document non-compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.
Digital recordings may be used to support inspection observations. They are not intended to replace accurate note-taking or other inspection activities.
Digital recordings need to be handled following CFIA's privacy, security and document management requirements.
For details see Corporate Security Division (internal access only).
Regulated Parties have expressed concerns regarding privacy and the possibility of leaking or sharing confidential business information (for example recipes, equipment processes, and public perception around animal handling). As such, this document provides guidance to ensure that digital recordings are handled in accordance with privacy, security and document management requirements.
CFIA has the authority to perform inspections to determine compliance with regulations that the CFIA enforces. Inspectors must be designated under the appropriate act(s) and regulations in order to conduct inspections, including the taking of digital recordings.
For details on the powers of inspectors, consult CFIA regulations.
- Digital Recording
- For the purpose of this document, any photograph, video or audio (including the audio portion of the video) recording taken using a digital device (including analogue)
- Digital Recording Device
- For the purpose of this document, any CFIA issued rugged device, camera, cell phone, tablet, laptop, blackberry, smart phone, video camera or audio recorder (including analogue)
- Official record
Records that are required by the CFIA to control, support, or document the delivery of programs, to carry out operations, to make decisions, or to account for activities of the Agency – are official records. Official records must be saved. Examples include, but are not limited to, information that:
- reflects the Agency's position on an issue
- documents a decision
- initiates, authorizes or completes an Agency business transaction
- states policies or directives
- originated from outside the Agency and forms part of a corporate record
- provides evidence of the Agency's business activities
- does not exist anywhere else in the Agency such as work schedules, status reports, meeting agendas and minutes, briefing notes, or final versions of documents and related recommendations
For more information about identifying official records refer to What to Keep What Not to Keep (Internal access only).
- Transitory record
Transitory records are only required for a limited period of time in order to complete a routine action or to prepare a subsequent record. Transitory records can be deleted as soon as they have fulfilled their immediate requirements. Transitory records include, but are not limited to:
- casual communications and personal (non-business related) messages
- miscellaneous "For your information (FYI)" notices
- information received as part of a distribution list (in other words the official record is either managed elsewhere in the Agency (for example Z-List notices) or it is meant for information purposes only)
- duplicate copies used for convenience only
- copies of Agency publications
- draft documents where all critical content changes have been incorporated into a subsequent document and saved in the Agency repository
- Master copy
- An original recording, film, or document from which copies can be made
- Access to Information Act and Privacy
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency
- Destination Inspections Services
- Digital Service Delivery Platform
- Enforcement and Investigation Services
- Electronic Inspection Worksheet
- Operational Guideline
- Regulated Party
- Standard Inspection Procedures
8.0 Operational guideline
CFIA inspectors do not need permission from the RP to take picture or videos.
However, as per the Criminal Code of Canada, inspectors do need to ask permission to take audio recording (including the audio portion of a video).
As a courtesy, and to help maintain a good relationship with the RP, inspectors can inform the RP at the beginning of the inspection that they may be taking digital recordings. Inspectors are encouraged to explain to the RP that all digital recordings are handled using established CFIA and Treasury Board security, privacy and document management procedures.
CFIA digital devices should be clearly identified (for example identification sticker).
See Annex 1: Digital Recording Device Use Flow Chart.
Follow established biosecurity procedures for digital recording devices as required (see Operational Procedure for Sanitation and/or Decontamination of Mobile Devices for Routine Operations (OP 168-2015) (internal access only RDIMS - 9831340)
8.3 When to take digital recordings
To be effective, a digital recording must be of sufficient clarity and detail to reflect the inspector's observations and must represent what the inspector saw with the appropriate level of detail.
Inspectors can take digital recordings:
- to capture inspection observations
- to document suspected non-compliance
- to seek advice to help determine compliance (for example Subject Matter Expert advice)
- to capture documents, labels, logs, records, etc.
- at any other time when a digital recording is required for inspection purposes
8.4 Preparing to use a digital recording device for an inspection
- Ensure that the digital recording device is in working order and charged (including availability of back-up battery power/ digital device charger or back-up device (for example phone))
- Verify and set the digital recording device to the current date and time (where applicable)
- Ensure that there is adequate media storage space for the digital recordings to be captured
- CFIA digital recording devices must always be kept in the possession of the inspector or in a secure location during the entire inspection and until it is securely transferred to another location or authorized person at the conclusion of the inspection
8.5 Taking digital recordings
- Ensure that the digital recording accurately captures the inspector's observations
- The inspector may request that the object or animal be presented for inspection (for example moved) to allow for appropriate capturing of the information (for example an animal in the barn that is turned away from the photographer, yet the photographer needs to capture the laceration on the animal's forehead)
- As per the Criminal Code of Canada, the inspector must inform the RP prior to any form of audio recordings (including video with audio) are being taken
- Digital recordings must only be of the object, animal or activity that documents the inspection observations
- Photographs of people should be avoided, unless the recording of the person is required to document non-compliance (for example a person inhumanely handling an animal)
- Do not capture confidential business information that is not necessary for the inspection
- After capturing the digital recording, check for clarity and confirm relevant details, such as readily identifiable unique items, objects, events, actions, or activities, and any other relevant information
- Take another digital recording if the digital recording is not an accurate portrayal or does not capture the relevant details
- Digital recordings should not be deleted. Recordings captured that are blurry, out of focus or irrelevant should be maintained as a matter of record. Please see the Recorded Information Management Policy (internal access only) and the Subject Classification Plan (internal access only – RDIMS 4174985) and What to Keep, What Not to Keep (internal access only) for details on transitory and official records of business value. Contact EIS if potential enforcement action may be taken.
- In rare circumstance in which a digital recording is deleted during an inspection (for example the recording inadvertently captures confidential business information that is not necessary for the inspection, recording inadvertently includes facility staff or other people that is not necessary to the inspection) and, if practicable, retake a recording that avoids the concern. Document in inspector's notes
- CFIA recording devices should not be used for personal or non-CFIA related activities.
- Select the camera setting that delivers the highest quality and the largest recording size necessary to capture clear and accurate the observations.
- Capture recordings from multiple angles of the scene if necessary (for example it may be helpful to take wide, medium, and close-up shots to capture additional details of the subject being photographed).
- Provide scale to a scene or object of interest by placing a familiar object (e.g. ruler, clipboard, pen) in the photo. This helps the viewer understand the size and scale of a scene/object.
8.6 Documenting digital recordings
Inspectors must document digital recordings, captured during an inspection, in their notes as per specific program procedures (including electronic notes, such as EIW, DSDP, etc.).
The following information must be captured in the inspector's notes (written or digital):
- identity of the photographer/videographer
- date and time the recording is captured
- location (in other words address, processing room, field 3, etc.)
- brief description of recording
- identifying number of digital recording (for example digital devices sequential numbering, 00011.jpeg)
- the location of the original or archived digital recordings (for example EIW, RDIMS)
- the deletion of any digital recordings including the reason for the deletion
An optional template for documenting (Logging) digital recordings (internal access only – RDIMS 10228257) is available. The template is not mandatory and information can be captured in other formats as long as the necessary information is accurately documented. The template does not have to be printed and can be completed and saved electronically.
Additional information about electronic notes can be found in Operational Directive for Electronic Notes (OD-14483) (internal access only - RDIMS 8391451) and Frequently Asked Questions – Electronic Notes (internal access only - RDIMS 8400616).
Additional information on SIP and EIW is available in Standard Inspection Procedure.
8.7 Downloading, saving and storing digital recordings
- When transferring digital recordings to a CFIA issued computer, inspectors must ensure that the digital recording is not altered (in other words resized, reformatted, renamed, etc.).
- When digital recordings provide information about past events, an official permanent electronic record is created.
- Inspectors must not connect their digital device (for example camera) to non-CFIA devices to transfer digital recordings or use a non-authorized wireless network to download or email digital recordings.
- Inspectors must save a master copy of all original digital recordings taken during the inspection. The master copy must be saved in approved CFIA storage (for example EIW, DSDP, RDIMS) as soon as practical after the digital recordings are captured.
- After master copies of original digital recordings are created, digital recordings are to be deleted from the digital device storage media and the storage media may be reused.
- Inspectors should follow established program specific procedures (for example EIW, DSDP, RDIMS, SIP, DIS) for determining naming conventions and storage location of electronic notes including digital recordings.
Digital recordings are subject to the same statutory and regulatory requirements as paper records and as with any other inspection related documents, must be saved according to the determined security level (for example Protected A, Protected B).
Details on how to determine the level of security for a document (including digital recordings) are available in the CFIA Guide to the Transporting, Transmission, Storage and Destruction of Protected and Classified Information (internal access only – RDIMS 3707409).
In most cases, digital recordings documenting suspected non-compliances are to be handled as Protected B or higher. Refer to the above guidelines on determining the level of protection.
Additional information about handling protected documents and corporate security is also available from the Corporate Security Division (internal access only).
8.8 Transporting, transmitting and printing digital recordings
The method of transferring, transporting (for example USB), transmitting (for example emailing, texting) and printing digital recordings (as with any other inspection documentation) depends on the security level (for example Protected A, Protected B).
Details on how to determine the level of security for a document (including digital recordings) are available in the CFIA Guide to the Transporting, Transmission Storage and Destruction of Protected and Classified Information (internal access only – RDIMS 3707409).
Details on the use of secure portable storage devices (USB) (internal access only) are available on Merlin.
8.9 Records retention
Digital recordings, as with any other inspection report, must be kept for a period of 10 years unless they are transitory in nature. Please see the Recorded Information Management Policy (internal access only) and the Subject Classification Plan (internal access only – RDIMS 4174985) and What to Keep, What Not to Keep (internal access only) for details on transitory and official records of business value.
8.10 Sharing of digital recordings
Inspectors may show (play back) digital recordings captured during an inspection to the RP. The RP may take their own digital recordings of the same subjects as the inspector. CFIA can only share copies of digital recordings with the RP if the digital recordings do not reveal any personal information (face, identifying marks or any other things that could identify a person). Any digital recordings containing personal information can only be shared through an Access to Information and Privacy Act (ATIP) request. If unsure, contact your supervisor and the Access to Information Office at the Welcome to the ATIP Office's intranet privacy page (Internal access only). Any disclosure of recordings should be documented in the inspector's notes.
8.11 The eegulated party refuses to allow the taking of digital recordings during inspection
RP restrictions on an inspector's ability to capture digital recordings may be considered obstruction.
If the RP refuses to allow the taking of digital recordings the inspector should:
- discuss reason for the denial
- cite the appropriate CFIA inspection authority to the company official, ask if he/she understands the reason for your request to capture a digital recording, and record the answer and any reason given for denial
- inform the RP that this is obstruction (contact EIS for further information regarding obstruction)
- contact your supervisor for follow up actions
- leave the premises if you feel threatened or unsafe
- document any site observations and the events related to the denial and record inspection observations if safe to do so, otherwise leave the premises
- record the name, title and telephone number of the individual denying your request, as well as the date and time
- record the name and title of any witnesses (for example CFIA or other government department staff)
Your supervisor can contact EIS to discuss follow up actions (for example Administrative Monetary Penalties [AMPS]).
Annex 1: Digital recording device use flow chart
- ATIP Office (internal access only)
- Transporting, Transmission Storage and Destruction of Protected and Classified Information (internal access only – RDIMS 3707409)
- Corporate Security Division (internal access only)
- Enforcement and Investigation Services (internal access only)
- Operational Directive for Electronic Notes (internal access only RDIMS 8391451)
- Operational Procedure for Sanitation and/or Decontamination of Mobile Devices for Routine Operations (OP 168-2015) (internal access only RDIMS - 9831340)
- Recorded Information Management Policy (internal access only)
- Standard Inspection Procedure Version 2.0 (under development)
- Statutory Powers (internal access only – RDIMS 3431461)
- Subject Classification Plan(internal access only – RDIMS 4174985)
- What to Keep, What Not to Keep (internal access only)
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