2016-07-06 Food Safety Testing Bulletin

July 2016
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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) priority is to protect consumers by safeguarding Canada's food supply. The Agency verifies that industry is meeting federal food safety requirements and conducts sampling and testing to detect food safety risks.

Monitoring the levels of chemical hazards, microbiological hazards, undeclared allergens, sulphites and gluten in the food supply helps the CFIA identify food safety hazards and develop risk management strategies to minimize potential risks to Canadians.

When non-compliance is found, the CFIA does not hesitate to take appropriate action. These actions may include notifying the manufacturer or importer, requesting a corrective action, additional inspections, conducting further directed sampling or product seizure and/or recall.

Allergen Reports

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Soy in Pre-Packaged Grain-Based Foods (2013-2014)

A targeted survey of 388 grain-based foods found that undeclared soy was present in 44 per cent of samples. The foods tested ranged from single ingredient foods, such as flour and whole grains, to multiple ingredient foods such as cookies. The vast majority of positive samples contained a very low concentration of soy. Low-level cross contamination can happen as part of normal agricultural practices. Positive results were followed up by the CFIA.

Chemical Residue Reports

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Arsenic Speciation in Selected Foods (2011-2013)

In this targeted survey, 2,015 samples were tested for arsenic. Product types analysed included beverages, canned fruit products, grain products, rice products, and seaweed products. The results showed 87 per cent of the samples contained detectable levels, which were expected as arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in trace amounts in rock, soil, water and air. Health Canada determined the levels of arsenic in the products sampled were not considered a risk to human health; therefore, no product recalls were necessary.

Bisphenol A in Canned Foods (2012-2013)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate and epoxy resins. Food and beverage packaging, especially metal cans, may be internally coated with epoxy resins to protect food from direct contact with the metal. Results from a targeted survey of 576 samples of canned pastas, soups, vegetables, fruit products, juices and beverages, coconut milk, and curry products showed 75 per cent of samples did not contain detectable levels of BPA. Health Canada evaluated the data and determined that levels of BPA found in the remaining samples did not pose a risk to human health; therefore, no follow up actions were needed.

Coumarin in Cinnamon and Cinnamon-Containing Products (2012-2013)

Cinnamon and cinnamon-containing spices were sampled in a targeted survey looking at the presence and levels of coumarin. Coumarin is a natural compound found in plants such as cinnamon that can pose a risk to human health if high levels are consumed. A total of 93 samples were analyzed and low levels of coumarin were detected in all of the samples. Elevated coumarin concentrations were not observed in any of the products tested in this survey; therefore, no follow up actions were necessary.

Microbiology Reports

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Bacterial Pathogens and Generic E. coli in Leafy Vegetables (2012-2014)

A targeted survey analyzing 2,977 samples of fresh leafy vegetables for bacterial pathogens including E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and generic E. coli, found 99.5 per cent to be satisfactory. One of the fresh-cut samples was found to be contaminated with Listeria. The CFIA conducted appropriate follow-up activities for the contaminated product, including a product recall. No reported illnesses were found to be associated with the contaminated products in this survey.

A complete list of the CFIA's food safety testing reports is available.

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