Update to the Vibrio parahamolyticus guideline

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May 20, 2016 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

This notice provides an update to the information published on October 20, 2015 regarding the management of the risks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) in raw oysters. Effective immediately, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is expanding the scope of application of the bacteriological guideline for Vp in live oysters.

The interim bacteriological guideline for Vp, found in the CFIA's Fish Products Standards and Methods Manual will now apply to all live oysters (end product), whether domestically produced or imported. This means that no sample can exceed 100 MPN per gram in each of five subsamples.

Importers, domestic processors and exporters are responsible for ensuring that fish and seafood products meet all applicable regulatory requirements, including the regulations made under the authority of the Fish Inspection Act.

Quality Management Program Importers (QMPI) and fish processing establishments must outline and implement controls to ensure that any significant health and safety hazards identified are controlled for fish imported into Canada, or processed in Canada.

Federally registered establishments must review their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan to ensure that the measures, as a whole, to eliminate or reduce Vp to an acceptable level are effective in ensuring the live oysters meet the updated Vp guideline. Until the review of the HACCP plan is completed and the measures are determined to be effective, additional interim measures (e.g. lot by lot testing of the oysters) are necessary to ensure compliance. Interim measures must be initiated when conditions are favourable for Vp (identified as water or oyster meat temperature at point of harvest equal to or greater than 15°C or testing of Vp in oysters at the harvest area showing persistent levels at or near 100 Vp MPN/g).

Importers must ensure that the live oysters they import meet Canadian regulatory requirements, including the updated Vp guideline. They must also verify that the oysters have been harvested, handled, stored and conveyed in a manner which adequately manages the risk of Vp.

QMPI licence holders that import live oysters must review and amend their QMPI plan. This will ensure that effective controls are in place so that the oysters comply with the updated Vp guideline.

The CFIA will continue to verify that appropriate controls for Vp in oysters have been implemented; through its regular activities at federally registered processing establishments and with importers using inspections, audits and sampling and testing.

Health Canada is reviewing available Vp data, which may result in further revision to the interim guideline. Until this review is completed, the CFIA will apply the interim guideline to all live oysters sold in Canada, in order to continue to protect consumers.  

The CFIA is preparing additional guidance to assist industry in understanding and managing the Vp hazard.  This information will be available on CFIA's website.  Industry is encouraged to subscribe to the e-mail notification service to be notified when CFIA manuals are updated.

For more information, please contact your local CFIA office.
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