Procedures for Sampling Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Table of Contents

  • Review
  • Amendment Record
  • Distribution
  • Scope of these Procedures
  • Introduction
  • Definitions
  • Legislative Authority
    • 1. Authority to take samples
    • 2. Where to take samples
    • 3. Assistance to inspectors
  • Personal Conduct
  • Sampling Procedures
    • 1. Laboratory Sample Tracking System
      • 1.1 LSTS Food Product Sampling Submission Forms
      • 1.2 Sampling plan identification code and required analyses
    • 2. Sampling equipment
    • 3. Choosing the samples
    • 4. Sample size
    • 5. Steps for sample collection
      • 5.1 General procedures
      • 5.2 Specific procedures
    • 6. Marking of the samples
    • 7. Storage and transportation of samples
      • 7.1 General Procedures
      • 7.2 Transportation of refrigerated samples
      • 7.3 Transportation of frozen samples
    • 8. Shipping temperature of the samples
    • 9. Shipping the samples
    • 10. References

Review

These sampling procedures have been circulated to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Laboratories Directorate, Food Microbiology and Chemistry Evaluation Food Safety Directorate and to all Program Area Network Specialists for their comments. The contact persons for these sampling procedures are Irina Frenkel 613-773-6199 and Rowena Linehan 613-773-6247.

Amendment Record

These procedures replace the "Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Sampling for Laboratory Testing Instructions" developed in October 2001.

Distribution

  • CFIA Area Network Specialists
  • CFIA Operations Branch
  • CFIA Laboratory Directorate
  • CFIA's Intranet and Internet

Scope of these Procedures

The objective of this document is to provide guidance to CFIA inspectors on the authority to collect samples, on how to sample produce and maintain the sample integrity. The procedures provided in this document are recognized as good practices and thus must be followed by CFIA inspectors.

These procedures are limited to the sampling of fresh fruit and vegetables that are intended for laboratory analysis. These procedures are not intended for the sampling of other food products.

Introduction

One of the CFIA's objectives is to contribute to a safe food supply for Canadian consumers. To achieve this objective, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program developed sampling and testing activities to monitor the compliance of domestic and imported fresh fruit and vegetables with:

  1. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, pursuant to the Canada Agricultural Products Act and;
  2. Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.

Every year, the CFIA develops monitoring sampling plans (i.e., chemical, microbiological and irradiation) for the compliance of fresh fruit and vegetables with Canadian regulatory requirements. The criteria used are the quantity of produce ingested by consumers, the human health risk associated with the type of contaminant, the past compliance history of the produce, and the past compliance history of the product origin.

The sampling and testing activity is divided into three phases: monitoring, surveillance and compliance.

The monitoring phase is designed to gather data and provide information on the occurrence of chemical residues, irradiated products and microbiological pathogens in predefined sampling populations of fresh fruit and vegetables. Information from the monitoring phase is obtained through random samples of fresh produce that appear normal. The sampled lots are not detained and are usually sold to consumers before the results become available. No direct enforcement action is taken during this phase of the sampling and testing activity. The monitoring phase identifies product in violation of Canadian regulatory requirements and triggers further investigation.

The surveillance phase is designed to identify suspected problems of potential health risk and is directed at a particular lot, grower/shipper, commodity or geographical area, in response to information collected during the monitoring phase or received from other sources. Based on the evidence of the potential health risk associated with the contamination, the product to be sampled may be detained until the laboratory results indicate the appropriate course of action. This sampling approach is referred to as biased or directed sampling. The laboratory testing of surveillance samples is completed as rapidly as possible and takes precedence over monitoring samples. If a violation is found under the surveillance phase, compliance actions may vary according to the type of contaminants and the health risk associated with them.

The compliance phase is a regulatory control measure to prevent the marketing or remove from market a product known to be contaminated or adulterated and to correct the problem. The compliance action is always directed at a specific source, i.e., the legally responsible party. The product is detained until the test results indicate the appropriate action.

Special or investigative sampling and testing are sometimes used to obtain information about the occurrence of chemical residue, food additive or microbiological organisms in a small sample set. This sampling is usually limited in scope and duration and are not risk based.

Definitions

Aseptic sampling: sampling performed using clean clothing, sterile disposable gloves, sterile sample containers, and sterile sampling equipment.

Chemical contamination: a contamination caused by agricultural chemicals (e.g., pesticides), metals and elements (e.g., aluminum, cadmium, lead, etc.), natural toxins, environmental pollutants, wax coatings, additives, cleaning agents, etc., that could potentially cause adverse effects on human health.

Microbial contamination: a contamination caused by yeast, mold, bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc., that could potentially cause adverse effects on human health.

Irradiation: a process of exposing fresh fruit and vegetables to a controlled amount of energy called "ionizing radiation," e.g., Cobalt 60, Cesium 137, X Rays generated from a machine source, or electrons generated from a machine source.

Fresh fruit and vegetables or fresh produce: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, sprouts, fresh mushrooms as well as fresh-cut fruit and vegetables ready-to-eat or not.

Domestic fresh fruit and vegetables: fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown in Canada.

Imported fresh fruit and vegetables: fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown outside of Canada. They would also include imported produce prepared and packaged in Canada.

Non Ready-to-eat (Non R-T-E) fresh-cut fruit and vegetables: means whole fresh fruit and vegetables that have been peeled, sliced, chopped or shredded prior to being packaged for sale and are labelled as intended for further processing or cooking.

Ready-to-Eat (R-T-E) fresh-cut fruit and vegetables: means whole fresh fruit and vegetables that have been peeled, sliced, chopped or shredded prior to being packaged for sale and are intended to be consumed raw and not for further processing or cooking.

Domestic R-T-E or Non R-T-E fresh-cut fruit and vegetables: fresh domestic or imported fruit or vegetables that have been peeled, sliced, chopped or shredded and packaged in Canada.

Imported R-T-E or Non R-T-E fresh-cut fruit and vegetables: fresh fruit or vegetables that have been peeled, sliced, chopped or shredded and packaged outside of Canada.

Lot: according Section 2 of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, a lot means a quantity of fresh fruit or fresh vegetables that for any reason is considered separately for inspection (e.g., same shipper, same brand name, same variety, same marks on packages, etc.). A lot could also be considered as a shipment or a load.

Laboratory Sample Tracking System (LSTS): CFIA's database system used to capture information related to the sample taken, and to generate sampling reports and laboratory reports of analysis.

Sample: a collection of one or more sample units of fresh fruit or vegetables taken from a lot and intended for laboratory analysis.

Sample Unit: an individual portion or container of fresh fruit or vegetables randomly taken from a lot. A sample unit may also be referred to as a "sub sample."

Random Sample: a set of sample units that have been drawn from a lot in such a way that each time a sample unit was selected, every item in the lot had an equal and independent opportunity to appear in the sample.

Representative Sample: the sample units selected for the sample exhibit all the attributes of the lot.

Legislative Authority

1. Authority to take samples

Paragraph 21(1)(b) of the Canada Agricultural Products Act gives clear authority to CFIA inspectors to take samples of any agricultural product free of charge where the inspector believes on reasonable grounds that the Act and the regulations apply. Where fresh fruit or vegetables have moved inter-provincially or have been imported, the inspector would be able to exercise that authority to take samples as part of an inspection activity in order to confirm that such movement of fresh produce has taken place in conformity with subsection 3.1 (1) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations. CFIA inspectors may also sample fresh fruit and vegetables that are intended for the interprovincial or export trade, if they have been advised orally by the company of its intention to ship them inter-provincially or to export them. Inspection of imported produce may take place at the premises of the primary importer, as well as at subsequent dealers' or retailers' premises within a province. These provisions should be read in conjunction with section 17 of the Canada Agricultural Products Act which permits an inspector to take samples of agricultural products.

Paragraph 21 (1) (b) of the Canada Agricultural Products Act

21 (1) For the purpose of ensuring compliance with this Act and the regulations, an inspector may, subject to section 22, enter and inspect any place, or stop any vehicle, in which the inspector believes on reasonable grounds there is any agricultural product or other thing in respect of which this Act or the regulations apply, and the inspector may

  • b) inspect any agricultural product or other thing and take samples of it free of charge;

Section 3.1 (1) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations.

3.1 (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall market produce in import, export or interprovincial trade as food unless it

  • a) is not adulterated;
  • b) is not contaminated;
  • c) is edible;
  • d) is free of any live insect, scorpion, snake, spider or other living thing that may be injurious to health;
  • e) is prepared in a sanitary manner;
  • f) where irradiated, is irradiated in accordance with Division 26 of Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations;
  • g) meets all other requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and the Food and Drug Regulations with respect to the produce

Section 17 of the Canada Agricultural Products Act

17. No person shall, except in accordance with this Act or the regulations,

  • a) market an agricultural product in import, export or interprovincial trade;
  • b) possess an agricultural product for the purpose of marketing it in import, export or interprovincial trade; or
  • c) possess an agricultural product that has been marketed in contravention of this Act or the regulations.

The CFIA's authority for sampling fresh fruit and vegetables domestically grown within a province for consumption in that province can be found under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. However, this authority is shared with the provincial and territorial governments which are responsible for routine inspections by virtue of their authority over property and civil rights in the presence and matters of local and private nature in the province. CFIA inspectors can still sample domestic fresh fruit and vegetables that are traded within a province where there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations; for example where the CFIA has identified potential health hazards, has analysed and assessed these hazards, and has identified risk management options likely to have the greatest impact on managing or reducing the risk to the public. With the exception of the Quebec and Ontario governments, there are no, or limited, provincial sampling and testing programs. Therefore, the CFIA, in consultation and collaboration with the provincial governments, could participate in a sampling and testing program for domestically grown fresh fruit and vegetables that are offered for sale within a province.

If a violation of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations has been found, e.g., exceed the prescribed maximum residue limit or a chemical hazard has been identified, the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations give the authority to the CFIA inspectors to investigate the violation at the farm level and to take more samples of the product found in violation.

The authority to take samples under the Food and Drugs Act could be found under paragraph 23 (1) (a):

Paragraph 23 (1) (a) of the Food and Drugs Act

23. (1) Subject to subsection (1.1), an inspector may at any reasonable time enter any place where the inspector believes on reasonable grounds any article to which this Act or the regulations apply is manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored, and may

  • (a) examine any such article and take samples thereof, and examine anything that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds is used or capable of being used for that manufacture, preparation, preservation, packaging or storing;

2. Where to take samples

According to section 3.1 (1) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, CFIA inspectors can sample fresh produce under the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program at the premises of growers, packers, wholesalers, importers, etc., who are known to export, import or ship fresh produce interprovincially.

Roadside stands and farmers markets that sell only local fresh produce or fresh produce moving intraprovincially fall primarily under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. CFIA inspectors can sample these fresh fruit and vegetables under the authority of the Food and Drugs Act only where there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the product is in violation of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. The inspection and sampling activity will take place under the Bureau of Food Safety and Consumer Protection Program.

If a food safety violation has been found, follow-up sampling could be pursued at the farm level in cooperation with the provincial government, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the Bureau of Food Safety and Consumer Protection Program.

3. Assistance to inspectors

Assistance from establishment personnel might be required where the lot to be sampled is not accessible. The lot must be moved to the designated inspection area, with assistance of the establishment personnel, in order to conduct safe and proper sampling of the product. To maintain the integrity of the sample, establishment employees who provide assistance to the CFIA, are required to follow the same hygienic procedures (i.e., personal and clothing cleanliness) as inspectors.

The authority for requesting assistance could be found under Section 21 (3) of the Canada Agricultural Products Act.

21. (3) The owner or person in charge of a place referred to in subsection (1) and every person found in that place shall give the inspector all reasonable assistance to enable the inspector to carry out the inspector's duties and functions under this Act and shall furnish the inspector with such information with respect to the administration of this Act or the regulations as the inspector may reasonably require.

Personal Conduct

Clean, well maintained protective clothing, hair and beard restraints, and use of sterile gloves are important elements of the food safety activity. Inspectors must not carry out sampling when suffering from temporary illnesses or injury (e.g., cold, flu, open cuts or sores), or diagnosed with communicable disease (e.g., Hepatitis A). Inspectors performing sampling of fresh fruit and vegetables and not following good hygienic practices and aseptic techniques could contaminate the produce or be perceived as a potential source of contamination. Before sampling, use all precautionary measures (e.g., use white hard hats in addition to hair nets) that the facility may have in place. Wash hands before, and after sampling as well as after breaks, use of washrooms, and any time when a potential source of cross-contamination has been touched. Discard disposable equipment in proper garbage receptacles.

Sampling Procedures

Each sample that an inspector submits for laboratory analysis is considered to be an official sample. All CFIA samples should be representative of the lot. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that samples are not compromised during its handling, storage and transport to the laboratory. If samples are improperly collected, mishandled, transported and/or are not representative of the sampled lot, the laboratory results may be inaccurate and inconclusive.

1. Laboratory Sample Tracking System

1.1 LSTS Food Product Sampling Submission Forms

Prior to drawing samples, inspectors should become familiar with the instructions on how to complete the "LSTS Food Product Sampling Submission Form" which is available to CFIA employees only on the CFIA Intranet site: http://merlin/english/sci/lab/labsys/centura/cent_fpe.asp

Only complete "LSTS Food Product Sampling Submission Forms" should be submitted even if the samples are destined to private laboratories.

1.2 Sampling plan identification code and required analyses

The inspector should obtain the correct sample number(s) from the appropriate sampling plan. All sample numbers have a unique identification name and code that identifies whether or not the sample is intended for monitoring, surveillance, compliance, consumer or industry complaints, investigations or other inspection activities defined by the program.

The analysis of the sample is indicated in the sampling plan. For example: The 2004_F206 Domestic Fresh Vegetables Monitoring Sampling plan for microbiology calls for E. coli, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, L.  monocytogenes, Shigella spp.

In order to better coordinate consumer and industry complaint and investigation samples, CFIA inspectors should contact their Area Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Officer. He/she, in collaboration with Laboratories Directorate and Food Microbiology and Chemical Evaluation Division, will determine the priority of the sample, the type of analysis required, and which laboratory has the capability to analyse the sample. The appropriate sample number(s) will also be issued for the sample submission.

2. Sampling Equipment

When drawing samples, ensure there is no potential for cross-contamination from equipment, material and apparatus. For aseptic sampling for microbiological testing, make arrangements with CFIA laboratory personnel or contact your supplier for the supply of sterile equipment and sterile material.

Sample Containers

For all sampling purposes, use clean, dry and leakproof containers where the capacity is adequate for the desired sample unit. For microbiological sampling use sterile, Whirlpak™ bags.

Instruments for opening food packages

Sterile scissors or knives are needed to open large packages of fresh fruit and vegetables for microbiological sampling purposes.

Sampling devices

For all sampling purposes, use appropriate, clean and dry sampling devices. When sampling for microbiological purposes, sterile scoops, spoons, triers or forks must be used for collecting sample units.

Sterile disposable gloves

Use prepackaged sterile disposable gloves that do not contain talcum powder. The talcum powder may interfere with the chemical and microbiological laboratory testing.

Shipping containers and packaging material

Use an insulated container of sufficient capacity. Use appropriate packing materials such as scrunched up newspaper, shredded paper, styrofoam nuggets, bubblewrap or any other suitable material needed to secure samples within the shipping container.

Coolants

Use plastic containers filled with refrigerant or well frozen ice packs in plastic bags to keep sample units cool. Dry ice is needed to keep frozen samples in a frozen state.

Other equipment

Bring the following supplies that may be used for sample collection or for marking samples: document holder, sanitized thermometer, flashlight, markers, rubber band and masking tape.

3. Choosing the samples

Sampling should be carried out in such a way that the samples represent the lot. Random samples, representative of the lot, must be taken from various locations (top, middle and bottom). Open, broken or damaged containers must not be sampled. For microbiological sampling purposes, inspectors should not sample products that are past the "use by" date or the "best before" date. Also, samples should be collected in such a way that they can be tested before the "use by" or "best before" date. If at all possible, the inspector should collect samples that are five (5) days before their "best before" date. This ensures that the samples collected represent an accurate profile of the product, as retailers should not be selling products that are past the "best before" or "use by" date.

When sampling at wholesalers, packing or processing establishments, choose product that would normally be offered for sale. Do not collect produce directly from the processing and packing line or from cull bins because the product has not gone through all of the establishment's preparation and packing steps.

4. Sample size

The size of the sample is indicated in the specifications for each sampling plan and depends on the laboratory tests to be performed. If the sample taken is due to a consumer complaint or investigation, consult the labs regarding how much sample they require to perform the analysis. Consumer complaints may have limited amount of sample available, which will dictate how many analyses can be performed.

A) Sampling for Pesticide residues, chemical contaminants, food additives, preservatives and treatments:

The sample size should consist of at least one kilogram of edible portion of produce or as otherwise indicated in the sampling plan. Insufficient sample size may prevent Laboratory to perform all analytical tests and therefore maybe rejected by Laboratory as unfit sample. In this case the inspector and Area Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program Specialist will be notified with a request to resample and resubmit.

B) Sampling for Irradiation:

The sample size is indicated in the sampling plan. For example: the 2004-2005 sampling plan requires the collection of five avocados, ten mangoes and five papayas. The samples for irradiation can be taken from the same container.

C) Sampling for Microbiology:

The sample size is indicated in the sampling plan. For example, the 2004-2005 sampling plan for domestic fresh fruit calls for: one melon or five (5) prepackaged products weighing at least a total of 750 grams. For bulk products, five (5) sample units weighing at least 150 grams each will be randomly collected. Do not combine any of the sample units into one single sample. Keep the five sample units separate.

5. Steps for sample collection

5.1 General procedures

  • Only trained inspectors should collect samples, otherwise be under the supervision of or be assisted by a trained inspector.
  • Wear clean and protective clothing, hair and beard net to minimize the risk of compromising the sample.
  • Sampling should be done in a clean area to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • Samples should be taken randomly, i.e., minimum of three containers from various locations (top, middle and bottom).
  • When sampling master containers, choose a minimum of three master containers at random; and, from each container, randomly choose a package.
  • Do not overfill the sample container or permit punctures by wire closure.
  • Sample containers must be securely sealed after filling so that they cannot leak or become contaminated during normal handling. It is a good practice to place one bag inside another (double thickness) to maintain container integrity.
  • The packaging of the samples should be done directly at the site of sampling to avoid the possibility of contamination.
  • Samples must be well packaged to maintain their integrity.
  • Consumer-sized prepackaged products should not be opened. They should be submitted as one, in tact, sample unit.

5.2 Specific procedures

A) Sample Collection for Pesticide Residues, Chemical Contaminants, Food Additives, Preservatives and Irradiation:

Except for potatoes, the product should be wrapped in aluminum foil, and placed in a polyethylene bag (4 mm or thicker). It is necessary to wrap the product in aluminum foil immediately because the polyethylene might interfere with the integrity of the sample.

Do not place potatoes directly in a polyethylene bag. Wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a paper bag or another type of bag that will permit air circulation.

While sampling for food additives and preservatives (e.g. sulphites) use sterile disposable gloves that do not contain talcum powder. The talcum powder may interfere with laboratory testing. Due to the high transferability of sulphites, the inspector should change non-talcum gloves in between samples.

For other types of chemical sampling, if gloves are used, the use of non talcum powder gloves must be ensured.

B) Sample Collection for Microbiology:

Special care should be taken by inspectors while sampling fresh fruit and vegetables for microbiological testing.

Whenever possible, submit samples to the laboratory in the original unopened containers. If a prepackaged product is sampled, ensure that the container will not become damaged during transportation. For example, some samples, such as sprouts, come in plastic consumer containers, often arrive at the Laboratory cracked and /or with loose lids. Ensure that the plastic containers are well padded and protected during shipment.

If the product within a container is too large for submission, a representative portion of the product must be sampled and transferred to a sterile sample container (e.g. Whirlpack™ bags) under aseptic conditions.

Inspectors should bring enough sterile equipment to collect the appropriate number of samples. Use sterile disposable gloves that do not contain talcum powder. The talcum powder may interfere with laboratory testing. The gloves must be put on using aseptic techniques. Do not reuse gloves. Change gloves when taking sub-samples. Contact with surfaces other than those of the product itself should be avoided. Place the product immediately in the sample container using the sampling equipment. If product falls outside of the sample container, do not place it back in the container. If a bag is used as a sample container, do not blow into the bag to open it, as you may contaminate the bag.

6. Marking of the samples

Immediately identify each sample unit with a label or a strip of masking tape to mark the outside of the sample bag. Each sample or sub-sample must be labelled with the sample identification number, the sub-sample identification number and any other information that will help to match the Sampling Report to the proper sample. The marking must be legible and permanent. Do not use a felt pen on plastic sample containers because the ink might penetrate the container.

7. Storage and transportation of samples

7.1 General procedures

Storage and transportation of the laboratory samples must be carried out in conditions that avoid compromising the integrity of the product. The procedures described below should be followed:

  • Deliver samples to the laboratory promptly. Microbiological samples should be collected and sent to laboratories at the beginning of the week so that the laboratories would have enough time to analyse them.
  • If there is a holiday during the week (i.e., Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.) consult with laboratory staff to determine when it is appropriate to send samples.
  • If samples are not shipped immediately, they should be stored in either a refrigerator or freezer, as appropriate.
  • Transport frozen or refrigerated samples in insulated shipping containers of rigid construction so that they will arrive at the laboratory in good condition.
  • The size of the shipping container should be sufficient to hold the samples and ice packs to be shipped.
  • Use clean, dry and sanitized shipping containers, coolers and sanitized ice packs. The packing materials also have to be clean, dry and sanitary.
  • Samples must be separate from each other during storage and transportation to the laboratory. This separation is particularly important for samples with dusty residues or containing volatile analytes.
  • Samples known, or thought, to bear such residues should be double sealed in polyethylene or nylon bags.
  • Samples should be packed tightly to prevent shifting within the shipping container but not so tight that the samples may be compromised during transport. To achieve properly secured samples, use scrunched up newspaper, shredded paper, styrofoam nuggets, bubblewrap, or other suitable packaging material.
  • During summer months, prior to use, place shipping containers in a freezer long enough to chill them thoroughly. Include more ice packs in hot weather. A check should be made, using a thermometer, to verify the internal cooler temperature.

7.2 Transportation of refrigerated samples

Transport samples in a shipping container with suitable refrigerant capable of maintaining the samples at a temperature between 0 and 7°C. Coolant material, i.e. ice packs, should not be placed directly on the samples. A layer of packaging material can be used to avoid direct contact between the samples and the coolant material in order to prevent freezing. For very large coolers, ice packs around the sides of the cooler or in between samples may be necessary to ensure consistent and adequate refrigeration.

7.3 Transportation of frozen samples

Surround frozen samples with dry ice wrapped in paper to avoid contact between samples and the dry ice. Sufficient dry ice must be used to keep the product frozen. Clearly label on the outside of the box that the box contains dry ice.

8. Shipping temperature of the samples

Temperature abuse may compromise the integrity of the sample. For microbiological testing, it may result in the replication or death of the targeted microorganism to be tested, and may render analytical results invalid.

A) Shipping Temperature of Samples for Pesticide residues, chemical contaminants, food additives, preservatives and treatments:

Samples should be maintained at a temperature that prevents product deterioration before it reaches the laboratory. If the product is highly perishable or in an advanced stage of maturity, the product must be frozen in order to prevent further deterioration.

B) Shipping Temperature of Samples for Irradiation Analysis:

Samples should be maintained at a temperature that prevents product deterioration and should be refrigerated. Do not freeze samples, even if the product is highly perishable or in an advanced stage of maturity.

C) Shipping Temperature of Samples for Microbiology Analysis:

Samples should be maintained at a temperature that prevents product deterioration and ensures sample integrity upon arrival to Laboratory. All samples should be refrigerated prior to shipping (e.g., refrigerate tomatoes, peppers or other products to bring their temperature between 0 and 7°C prior to shipping them to the laboratory). Do not freeze samples, even if the product is highly perishable, susceptible to chilling injury and/or in an advanced stage of maturity. The laboratory may refuse to analyse any samples that they deem compromised, and/or samples that they believe to have been stored at inappropriate temperatures during shipment. The upper temperature limit for samples upon the arrival at Laboratory for microbiological analysis is 7°C. Samples that arrive at the laboratory with a temperature above 7°C will not be analysed.

9. Shipping the samples

Before placing samples in a shipping container, ensure that each sample is properly identified with a sample number. Place the sampling report(s) in a sealed envelope outside of the shipping container or in a separate plastic bag inside of the shipping container.

Ensure that the shipping container is properly labelled and sealed. Mark on the shipping container the following statement: "Perishable, Handle With Care, Dry Ice (if applicable)." Advise the carrier of the requirement for refrigeration and of the presence of dry ice, if used. Samples should be shipped within a reasonable time. Samples for microbiology analysis should be shipped as soon as possible. Any delay in transporting the sample should be avoided. If the samples are to be delivered during a weekend and there is no one at the laboratory to receive them, it is advisable to keep the samples under appropriate storage temperature at the work site, and ship them on an early day in the week, rather than shipping the samples over the weekend. If there is a holiday during the week (i.e., Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.) consult with laboratory staff to determine when it is appropriate to send samples.

10. References

The sampling procedures described in this document are based on the following documents:

  1. ISO 7002: 1986. Agricultural Food Products - Layout for a Standard Method of Sampling from a Lot.
  2. ISO 874: 1980. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables - Sampling.
  3. International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF), Microorganisms in Foods. 2. Sampling for Microbiological Analysis: Principles and Specific Applications. Chapter 9. 1986. Second Edition. Toronto. University of Toronto Press.
  4. United States. Food & Drug Administration Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition (USFDA-CFSAN). Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) Chapter 1: Food Sampling and Preparation of Sample Homogenate
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