2016-12-08 Food Safety Testing Bulletin

December 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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Undeclared Milk in Soy-Based Infant Formula (2013-2014)

In a targeted survey of 199 samples of soy-based infant formula, two were positive for the milk protein casein. Samples included powder and liquid concentrate products that did not declare milk in the list of ingredients. Both positive results were evaluated by the CFIA, taking into account the fact that not all detectable levels of undeclared allergens and gluten pose a risk to consumers. The CFIA took appropriate follow up actions based on health risk assessments by Health Canada. Follow up actions can include further inspection, additional directed sampling, a food safety investigation, and products recalls.

Chemical Residue Reports

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Coumarin in Dried Beverage Mixes, Breads, Baking Mixes, Spice Mixes, Dried Tea, Baked Goods, and Breakfast Foods (2013-2014)

Selected foods containing cinnamon 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. Samples included dried beverage mixes, breads, baking mixes, spice mixes, dried tea, baked goods, oatmeal, and breakfast cereals. A total of 749 samples were analyzed and levels of coumarin were detected in 95 per cent of the samples. Health Canada determined that the levels of coumarin observed are not expected to pose a concern to human health; therefore, no product recalls were required.

Multi-Mycotoxin Analysis in Selected Foods (2013-2015)

Mycotoxins are natural toxins released by moulds. Their human health effects vary depending on the type and level of mycotoxin in the food. A targeted survey analyzed 2,235 samples for the presence of mycotoxins. Samples included processed grain products, wheat products, corn products, and oat products. Mycotoxins where detected in 1,327 samples (59.4 per cent). All mycotoxin results in this survey were assessed by Health Canada and it was determined they do not pose a risk to human health. No product recalls were required given the lack of human health concern.

Perchlorate in Selected Foods (2013-2014)

A targeted survey analysed 477 samples of fresh vegetables, processed fruit and vegetable products, dairy products, infant formula, grain products, and assorted foods for perchlorate. Perchlorate is a chemical that occurs naturally in the environment and is also an environmental contaminant resulting from industrial processing. Overall, 71 per cent of fresh vegetables, 40 per cent of processed fruit and vegetable products, 80 per cent of dairy products, 54 per cent of infant formula, 30 per cent of grain products, and 61 per cent of assorted foods contained detectable levels of perchlorate. This data was shared with Health Canada to perform human health risk assessments. Health Canada concluded that the levels of perchlorate found in the samples did not pose a human health risk; therefore, no follow up activities were required.

Microbiology Reports

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

A targeted survey on bacterial pathogens in various spices analyzed 1,624 samples for Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. The survey also analyzed samples for generic E. coli as an indicator of fecal contamination. Most samples (99.4 per cent) were found to be satisfactory. Two samples (organic garlic and ground ginger) were assessed as unsatisfactory for the presence of Salmonella. The CFIA conducted appropriate follow-up activities, and both affected products were recalled. In addition, eight samples had elevated levels of Bacillus cereus, resulting in one product recall. No reported illnesses were found to be associated with these contaminated products. The bacterial pathogen Clostridium perfringens and generic E. coli were not found at levels of concern in any of the samples tested.

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

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