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Nineteenth meeting of the Agri-Subcommittee on Food Safety: Record of decision

May 7, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario

Key decision points

  • At the next ASFS, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will give a presentation on the dispute resolution process to receive feedback from industry (for example process for addressing disputes between inspectors and plants).
  • CFIA will update the ASFS on the implementation of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR).
  • ASFS industry members recommend CFIA form an industry/government working group to examine best practices and processes (for example standards, guidelines and toolkits) for addressing cases of food fraud.
  • ASFS members will continue to discuss how this committee can provide value for the agriculture sector moving forward.

A full listing of decisions is found in Annex A.

Introductions

Co-chairs welcomed participants and reviewed the meeting agenda.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency's update on food fraud

  • The CFIA provided an overview of the current food fraud situation, challenges and opportunities for food prevention in Canada, and its role in enforcing the federal provisions to prevent it.
  • CFIA stressed the shared responsibility between industry and government to prevent food fraud and that conventional compliance promotion and inspection are not sufficient to address deliberate fraudulent practices.
  • Industry members sought clarification on CFIA's role in preventing food fraud. CFIA stated that while industry is responsible for preventing food fraud, the agency's risk-based approach is intended to measure all possible risks and will follow "outcome-based" rules.
  • Industry members recommended that CFIA establish an industry/government working group to examine best practices and processes (for example standards, guidelines and toolkits) to address cases of food fraud.

Food safety objectives and detectable limits/amounts; salmonella in frozen raw breaded chicken products

  • CFIA presented the Agency's efforts to reduce the incidents of illness from salmonella in Frozen Raw Breaded Chicken Products (FRBCPs). They included:
    • A recent directive requiring industry to implement measures at the manufacturing/processing level to eliminate salmonella in products prepared for retail sale
    • Communicating the importance of properly cooking FRBCPs to consumers
  • Industry members discussed allowable detectable limits of salmonella for other products and asked what could be done at the producer level to prevent salmonella.
  • CFIA restated that it is moving towards an "outcome-based" approach, thus providing industry with many ways to test for salmonella.
  • Industry members recommended further discussion on the application of Food Safety Objectives in an "outcome-based" process.

Public health results on Salmonella

  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) presented the public health findings on salmonella – the impacts, incident rates, federal role and how industry can have an impact.
  • Industry members acknowledged that there may be an opportunity to learn and share from the actions taken by other players that have been successful at monitoring and reducing E. Coli.
  • ASFS industry members discussed the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS). They requested an update on the main tactics and effectiveness of interventions used across value-chains to reduce the presence of pathogens (for example differences in surveillance) and assess barriers and best practices.

Next Generation Sequencing and Whole Genome Sequencing – applications beyond food safety

  • The CFIA and the University of Guelph presented on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), providing both a government and academic perspective.
  • The presenters touched on the unique set of challenges of this technology, including costs, data storage, finding qualified operators, and the need for developing an external validation process (the need for methodological validation).
  • Industry members cautioned that common sense must be exercised when using these powerful tools; users need to know how to properly interpret the data.
  • Industry members asked for regular updates on science and advances in testing in the area of NGS / WGS.

CFIA's Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)

  • CFIA provided a verbal update on the status of the SFCR and the work underway regarding implementation, communication and compliance promotion activities such as the My CFIA webpage.
  • Industry members expressed concerns that the implementation of the SFCR may result in compliance issues and possible disputes over inspector interpretation of the new regulations.
  • Industry members recommended several actions with regard to this topic:
    • CFIA provide an update on the implementation of the SFCR at the next meeting (with the expectation that the new regulations will be passed by the fall of 2018 and come into force by January 2019).
    • Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition (CSCFSC) prepare a document for discussion at the next meeting that focuses on the application of food safety objectives in an outcome-based process.
    • CFIA and interested industry members (for example, the Beef Value Chain Roundtable) present on the processes for addressing disputes over validation (for example process for addressing disputes between inspectors and plants).
    • CFIA provide an update on the activities they are implementing to prepare its workforce for the new SFCR.

An overview of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership's AgriAssurance Program

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) provided an overview of the AgriAssurance Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). This program will help build industry capacity to increase public confidence in the food system, respond to market requirements and meet consumer demand through two components: the National Industry Association and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME).
  • Industry members requested clarification as to how the program could help SMEs become compliant with the new SFCR. AAFC confirmed that design of systems development, such as hazard analysis and critical control points, would be eligible expenses.
  • AAFC invited members of the ASFS to review the AgriAssurance webpages and contact program officials for specific eligibility questions.

CAP research priorities on food safety

  • AAFC provided an overview of the department's research funding priorities on food safety.
  • Industry members expressed their frustration with the project application, approval and reimbursement process. AAFC noted that it is working to simplify the process under CAP and that lessons learned are being brought forward to the new framework.
  • Industry asked if the provincial research areas could be brought forward to the members of ASFS.
  • AAFC agreed to follow-up with industry members to present further details on relevant CAP research projects of provinces and territories, for their comments and discussion.

McDonald's food safety strategy

  • McDonald's provided a presentation on the efforts they have undertaken to implement their global food safety strategy.
  • McDonald's works with all levels of their entire supply chain from suppliers to owner/operators and employees to ensure safe food.
  • Industry members commended McDonald's for having set a high bar to ensure credibility of entire supply chain.

ASFS model: Review

  • ASFS members participated in an open discussion on the current ASFS model and the strategic direction of the committee going forward.
  • All members agreed that the ASFS has been a valuable forum to discuss food safety priorities, exchange information and find potential ways to improve the system. Various options were proposed on ways to provide more value to industry and governments moving forward.
  • The CSCFSC informed ASFS members that the Coalition sent a letter to the Minister of Health (dated April 18, 2018) to request that the Health Portfolio develop a direct link for agriculture and agri-food industry stakeholders to the Minister of Health. It was noted that this decision could impact the ASFS.
  • Industry members requested that AAFC present the work to date of the ASFS (for example identify achievements) to facilitate a discussion on the terms of reference at the next meeting.

Roundtable discussion

  • ASFS industry members provided updates on their respective roundtables and on activities of interest to their sector/industry, such as:
    • Increasing awareness of the need to recognize beyond oil seed crushing at the Grains Value Chain Roundtable.
    • The produce sector developing their own information pieces on the SFCR to help their members with the transition to the new legislation.
    • The CSCFSC would be happy to share their letter to the Minster of Health with any interested members.
    • The beef sector is concerned about European Union procedures that could impact Canadian exporters.

Conclusion

  • The next ASFS meeting is scheduled for late September or early October 2018.

Annex A

Action Items
Action Item Description Responsibility Timeline
19-1 CFIA to provide a presentation on the dispute resolution process and receive feedback from industry as well as discuss the process when disputes arise over validation (for example process for addressing disputes between inspectors and plants). CFIA Agenda item at next meeting
19-2 CFIA's new outcome-based approach:
  • a. ASFS industry members to discuss how an outcome-based approach could be used to enhance food safety across the value chain, including best practices to reduce presence of pathogens.
CFIA Agenda item at next meeting
  • b. CFIA to update on the implementation of the SFCR at the next meeting.
CFIA
  • c. CFIA to provide an update on the activities to prepare its workforce for the SFCR at the next meeting.
CFIA
  • d. ASFS industry members recommended further discussion on the application of Food Safety Objectives in an outcome-based process. The Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition to provide discussion material.
Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition and CFIA
19-3 As science progresses and advances in testing are made in the area of NGS / WGS, ASFS industry members requested regular updates on new methods be brought to the roundtable. AAFC, in collaboration with federal partners Winter 2019
19-4 AAFC to share food safety related CAP research priorities of provinces and territories, for ASFS industry members' review. AAFC Fall 2018
19-5 AAFC to present the work to date of the ASFS (for example, identify achievements) to facilitate a discussion on the terms of reference at the next meeting. AAFC Agenda item at next meeting
Recommendations
Recommendation Item Description Responsibility Timeline
19-6 ASFS industry members recommended the CFIA establish an industry/government working group to examine best practices and processes (for example standards, guidelines and toolkits) to address cases of food fraud. CFIA Fall 2018 or winter 2019

Participants

Co-Chairs

  • Rosser Lloyd, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
  • Dennis Laycraft, Canadian Cattlemen's Association

Industry members

  • Albert Chambers, Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition
  • Angie Siemens, Cargill (by phone)
  • Erica Charlton, Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council
  • Denise Allen, Food Processors of Canada (by phone)
  • Connie Kehler, Canadian Herb, Spice and Natural Health Products (by phone)
  • Susan Abel, Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council
  • Heather Gale, CanadaGAP
  • Olivier Beaulieu-Charbonneau, Dairy Processors Association of Canada
  • Paul Lansbergen, Fisheries Council of Canada
  • Pamela Harrod, Dairy Farmers of Canada
  • Sharon Mohammed, Maple Leaf Foods
  • Myrna Grahn, Public Trust Steering Committee
  • Brenda Carr, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada

Federal government members

  • Laura Anderson, Canadian Grain Commission
  • Paul Spooner, AAFC
  • Mark Samadhin, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
  • Jennifer Hughes Doucet, Health Canada (HC)
  • Lyzette Lamondin, Canadian Food Inspection agency (CFIA)

Speakers

  • Aline Dimitri, CFIA
  • Kathy Twardek, CFIA
  • Shannon Laforce, CFIA
  • Rick Fiarchuck, AAFC-AAC
  • Maria Kubacki, CFIA
  • Martin Appelt, CFIA
  • Lisa Landry, PHAC
  • Robert Hanner, University of Guelph
  • Sankaran KrishnaRaj, AAFC

Federal observers

  • Stephanie Mitchell, CFIA
  • Anne Kennedy, AAFC
  • Isabelle Depault, AAFC
  • Boubacar Sidibe, CFIA

Industry Observers

  • Tony Sangster, Fisheries Council of Canada

Federal support

  • Ron Gerold, AAFC
  • Shane Campbell, AAFC
  • Adam Carley, AAFC
  • Jason Baillargeon, AAFC
  • Elizabeth Sepulveda, AAFC
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