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Bacteriological guidelines for fish and fish products (end product)

Test Organism Table Note a Product Type Number of sample units Acceptance number "c" Table Note b Level "m" Table Note b Level "M" Table Note b Interpretation
Escherichia coli Cooked or ready-to-eat products 5 1 4/g 40/g Unsatisfactory if 2 or more units exceed m, or if any unit exceeds M
Escherichia coli Raw bivalve molluscs 5 1 230/100 g 330/100 g Unsatisfactory if 2 or more units exceed m, or if any unit exceeds M
Escherichia coli All other types 5 2 4/g 40/g Unsatisfactory if 3 or more units exceed m, or if any unit exceeds M
Coagulase-Positive Staphylococci All types 5 1 1000/g 10000/g Unsatisfactory if 2 or more units exceed m, or if any unit exceeds M
Salmonella (all species). All types 5 Absent in each 25 g sample or in pooled samples of 125 g. - - Unsatisfactory if Salmonella spp detected
Vibrio cholerae Cooked or ready-to-eat products 5 Absent in each 25 g sample or in pooled samples of 125 g - - Unsatisfactory if Vibrio cholerae detected.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus Table Note c Live Oyster 5 0 100/g - Unsatisfactory if any unit exceeds m

Table Notes

Table Note a

The methods recognized for the analysis of the test organisms can be found in Health Canada's Compendium of Analytical Methods.

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Table note b

"m" represents acceptable concentrations of bacteria in a sample; "c" represents the maximum number of samples that may exceed "m", and "M" represents unacceptable concentrations of bacteria in a sample

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Table Note c

The guideline applies to oysters destined for raw consumption.

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Guidelines for Listeria monocytogenes

The criteria presented in the table below are from Health Canada's Policy on Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods Table Note d
Product Type / Category Table Note e Laboratory method to be applied Table Note g Action Level

RTE Fish products in which the growth of L. monocytogenes can occur and could exceed 100 CFU/g before the end of the stated shelf-life.

Includes all products that do not fall in either below-mentioned product types.

(Equivalent to Category 1 foods in the HC Listeria policy)

Presence/absence in 125 g
(MFHPB-30) on 5 sample units of 25 g each
Detected

RTE Fish products in which the growth of L. monocytogenes can occur but is limited to levels no greater than 100 CFU/g over the course of their stated shelf-life.

RTE products that have a refrigerated shelf-life of 5 days or less fall under this category.

Other products require validation data Table Note f demonstrating growth cannot exceed 100 CFU/g.

(Equivalent to Category 2A foods in the HC Listeria policy)

Enumeration in 50 g
(MFLP-74) on 5 sample units of 10 g each
> 100 CFU/g Table Note h

RTE Fish products in which growth of L monocytogenes cannot occur over the course of the stated shelf-life.

Products with the following characteristics fall under this category:

  • products that are frozen, or
  • have a pH < 4.4 regardless of the aw, or
  • have an aw < 0.92 regardless of the pH, or
  • have a pH < 5.0 and an aw < 0.94

For products that don't meet the above characteristics, validation data Table Note f demonstrating the absence of growth is required.

(Equivalent to Category 2B foods in the HC Listeria policy)

Enumeration in 50 g (MFLP-74) on 5 sample units of 10 g each >100 CFU/g Table Note h

Table Notes

Table Note d

Health Canada's "Policy on Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods" is referred to as the "HC Listeria Policy" in the table.

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Table Note e

For further guidance on the determination of a product category, see Figure 1 "Classification Of Ready-to Eat Foods" in the Health Canada document Validation of Ready-to-Eat Foods for Changing the Classification of a Category 1 into a Category 2A or 2B Food - in relation to Health Canada's Policy on Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods (2011).

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Table note f

See HC's guide on "Listeria monocytogenes Challenge Testing of Ready-to-Eat Refrigerated Foods" for information on challenge testing as part of validation.

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Table Note g

Or any other method published in the Health Canada's Compendium of Analytical Methods for Listeria monocytogenes that is appropriate for use with your food as defined in the "application" section of the method (for example, MFHPB-methods and MFLP-methods).

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Table note h

Counts between 5 and 100 CFU/g can be an indication of a possible loss of control and should prompt the processor to verify and/or re-evaluate his process controls.

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