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Pest Risk Analysis: How we evaluate fruits, vegetables and plants from new countries of origin
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This document describes the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) process for evaluating import requests and establishing phytosanitary import requirements for fruits, vegetables and plants from new countries of origin.
During the PRA process, the CFIA generally communicates directly with the National Plant Protection Organization of the exporting country (referred to as the NPPO in the rest of this document) in order to seek their commitment to work with the CFIA and provide necessary technical information. If the NPPO indicates that the file is not a priority, the CFIA will notify the Canadian importer that the NPPO is not interested in pursuing market access and the request will not be actioned at this time. If the NPPO is interested in proceeding, the CFIA will encourage them to submit technical information to support the PRA process as early as possible. The PRA process may be put on hold if the NPPO does not provide the required information in a timely manner.
Timelines for completing PRAs are variable and may be up to several years, depending on factors such as the complexity of the file, availability of information, and engagement of the NPPO.
Conducting a PRA does not guarantee that importation will be permitted. The PRA may conclude that the pest risk cannot be adequately mitigated using available phytosanitary measures.
Review and prioritization of PRA requests
Before requesting a PRA, please consult the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to confirm that the product is not permitted entry into Canada from that particular country of origin. You can also use AIRS to identify countries from which the product is already permitted entry.
All PRA requests are reviewed and prioritized when they are received. The party requesting the PRA will be asked to complete a questionnaire and provide information to help the CFIA evaluate the priority of the request.
The following factors may raise the priority level of a PRA request:
- The PRA is identified as a priority by a Canadian industry association.
- The product fills an identified need in the Canadian market (a similar product is not already available from other countries of origin during a specific time period) and is expected to be imported in significant volumes.
- The exporting country's NPPO supports the request and is prepared to provide timely and thorough responses to the CFIA's requests for technical information.
PRA process for requests that are actioned
Once a PRA request is actioned, the following steps apply. The CFIA generally communicates with the exporting country's NPPO before and/or during each step to request necessary technical information. The NPPO is encouraged to send the CFIA detailed information to support the PRA process as early as possible. A PRA is placed on hold until the required information is received from the NPPO. The CFIA may require one or more site visits to gather information and/or audit the production, risk mitigation and export certification practices in the country of export. Fees may apply. The CFIA may consult stakeholders at any time during the process.
See below for details of the steps shown in this flow-chart.
- Initiate PRA: The CFIA sends the NPPO a questionnaire requesting information about the product, plant pests associated with the product, production practices and pest management practices.
- Pest risk assessment and pest list: The CFIA reviews the scientific literature as well as the information provided by the NPPO to identify plant pests of quarantine concern to Canada that might be associated with the product in the exporting country, evaluate the probability of their introduction and spread, and evaluate the potential consequences of their introduction into Canada.
- Preliminary pest categorization: Develop a comprehensive pest list, conduct categorizations of all pests, and identify pests that require a pest risk assessment.
- Pest risk assessment: Assess each pest of concern for risk of introduction, establishment, spread and impact.
- Pest list: Finalize the draft list of quarantine pests and identify those pests which require specific phytosanitary measures to mitigate the risk of introduction.
- Pest risk management: The CFIA shares the draft list of pests of quarantine concern with the NPPO for comment and also provides information on the CFIA's existing phytosanitary import requirements related to any of these pests. Once the pest list is agreed to, the NPPO must provide the CFIA with proposed risk mitigation measures for each pest on the list and a description of how any existing phytosanitary import requirements will be met. In some cases, the NPPO will be required to propose a systems approach to address the pest risks. The CFIA reviews the information provided and evaluates whether the proposed measures are sufficient to mitigate the pest risk. This step is complete when the CFIA and the NPPO agree to appropriate risk management measures for each of the quarantine pests.
- Implementation of import requirements: The CFIA and the NPPO record the agreed-upon risk mitigation and export certification measures in writing (e.g. through a bilateral workplan). The CFIA then publishes the new phytosanitary import requirements for the product in the Automated Import Reference System and in any relevant plant health directives and issues a notification to stakeholders. Canadian importers may then apply for import permits (if required) and start importing the product from the new country of origin.
- Trial importation periods and audits: Trial importation periods and audits may be used to verify that imported plants, fruits and vegetables comply with Canada's phytosanitary import requirements. Canadian importers are required to obtain import permits for any product that is imported under trial period conditions. Trial periods last a minimum of one shipping season but may be extended, particularly if the number of commercial-sized consignments that enter Canada is insufficient to evaluate compliance or if any non-compliances are found. The CFIA evaluates imported consignments during the trial period to verify that phytosanitary risk management measures have been effectively applied at origin. The CFIA may also require a visit to the exporting country to follow up on a non-compliance or to audit the established systems approach. More information on trial importation periods for fresh fruit is available in Section 2.4 of directive D-95-08: Phytosanitary import requirements for fresh temperate fruits and tree nuts.
Requesting a Pest Risk Analysis
Before requesting a PRA, please review Preparedness for requesting a Pest Risk Analysis.
Please note that PRA requests received by the CFIA may be shared publicly (such as to discuss prioritization of requests with relevant industry sectors). Personal information will not be shared, but general points such as the products and countries of origin will be.
Additional information on Pest Risk Analysis
Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) is an internationally recognized process that the CFIA uses to evaluate the pest risk posed by a specific organism or a specific product originating from a specified PRA area. This PRA process may be triggered by many different situations, including a proposal to import a product that has not previously been imported or a product from a new country of origin. The CFIA considers these products "Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis" (NAPPRA) and a PRA must be completed prior to importation. Products with a past history of importation may also be returned to NAPPRA status if new information becomes available indicating that there are unassessed risks associated with the product or country of origin.
Examples of plant products from specific countries of origin that are considered NAPPRA can be found in the following directives:
- Plants for planting: Appendix 2 of directive D-08-04.
- Fruits: Temperate fruits that are not listed in Appendix 1 of directive D-95-08.
The following International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) provide guidance on the PRA process and potential risk management options for quarantine plant pests:
- ISPM 2: Framework for pest risk analysis
- ISPM 11: Pest risk analysis for quarantine pests
- ISPM 14: The use of integrated measures in a systems approach for pest risk management
- ISPM 36: Integrated measures for plants for planting
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