Annex M: Laboratory Sampling of Imported Meat Products

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1. Introduction

Laboratory sampling of imported meat products is an important aspect of import meat inspection. This is required to assure food safety and compliance to Canadian standards. Laboratory examinations are necessary to detect chemical residue substances, microorganisms, and to verify compliance to compositional standards. Laboratory samples are withdrawn from full inspection shipments only.

Additional information and instructions can be found in Chapter 5 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures (MOP) and by contacting the Area Program Specialist.

Laboratory results can be provided on request to the importer or operator who provided the sample as per Section 131 (2) Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (MIR).

Laboratory materials submission techniques are discussed in Annex M-2 of this chapter (available to CFIA personnel only). The inspector will notify the operator each time samples are collected.

Laboratory sampling plans must be adhered to as they are an integral part of Canada's meat inspection program. Positive laboratory results can result in refused entry, recalls and placement of the foreign establishment on intensified inspection.

2. Legislation

Meat Inspection Regulations 1990:

131. (1) An operator or an importer shall, at the request of an inspector and without charge, provide the inspector, for laboratory examination, with samples of a meat product or any ingredient or additive used or to be used in the preparation of a meat product or any other material used or to be used in connection with a meat product.

(2) Reports on the results of a laboratory examination referred to in subsection (1) shall be made available, on request, to the operator or importer who provided the sample.

132. (1) Where, in the course of the inspection of a meat product or any ingredient or additive referred to in subsection 131(1), a laboratory examination is conducted on the meat product, the applicable official method registered with the Director shall be used.

(2) The Director shall provide any person, on request, with a copy of an official method referred to in subsection (1).

3. Laboratory Sampling Plans for Red Meat and Poultry Products

There are two types of laboratory sampling plans for monitoring imported meat products:

  1. The Annual Meat Import Sampling plan; and,
  2. Import Residues Sampling Plan.

3.1 Annual Import Meat Product Sampling Plan

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Food Safety and Meat Programs Divisions in Ottawa issue directives each fiscal year for microbiological and additive/compositional/irradiation sampling of meat and poultry meat products. A sampling plan number is assigned to each category of product to be sampled. These directives are sent to each Area Program Specialist who will determine the number and types of sampling required for each import meat inspection establishment. The numbers of samples are based on the number and types of imported shipments received at each establishment the previous fiscal year.

A memorandum for the fiscal year, addressed to the responsible inspector, will be issued for each establishment doing import meat inspection. It will instruct the inspector as to the number of samples required, what to sample and where to send each sample. There will be a sample number assigned each sample to be submitted to the CFIA laboratories. Also there are instructions for the CFIA lab submission forms and shipping instructions. If your establishment did not receive this memorandum, you should contact the Area Program Specialist.

3.2 Import Residues Monitoring

Annex M-1 outlines a laboratory sampling plan for import residues monitoring. These samples are submitted to laboratories as listed in Annex M-1. Refer to section 6 of this annex for more information.

3.3 Laboratory Submission Sample Numbers

All samples submitted to a CFIA laboratory must have an authorized sample number and the sample submission information must be entered into the Laboratory Sample Tracking System (LSTS). You can obtain this number by referring to the memorandum sent from the Area Program Specialist for the Annual Sampling Plan. All sample numbers are for monitoring purposes. When follow-up sampling is required due to a non compliant result, additional sample numbers must be obtained.

Samples for import residues monitoring are sent to private CFIA approved laboratories. The Import Inspection Report (IIR) control number is used as the sample number for Import Residues Monitoring. Each sub-sample should be listed individually on the LSTS form (987654-1, 987654-2, 987654-3 etc.).

3.4 Laboratory Sample Submission Forms

The laboratory sample submission form is completed for each sample submission including those submitted to private laboratories unless otherwise specified. These forms are available through LSTS user services.

4. Laboratory Sample Results Found Positive

All laboratory samples found unsatisfactory (positive) will be reported to the National Specialist, Imports Program, Meat Programs Division (MPD), in Ottawa. All positive results will result in the lot being refused entry, if being held at point of import inspection. If the meat product has been released and distributed, the positive result will be reported to the Office of Food Safety and Recall (OFSR), and a food recall may be ordered.

4.1 Intensified Inspection

The Import Control Tracking System (ICTS) will be programmed to place on intensified inspection the same meat product type originating from the foreign establishment from which the non-compliance occurred. This means the next 15 lots and 15 times the total weight of the refused lot will require laboratory testing with negative results. If for example, 10 lots are found negative and the 11th lot is positive, the 15 count would start over.

The IIR will have, as part of the sampling plan, a notation that the foreign processing establishment is on intensified inspection, describe the type of non compliance that was discovered in the previous shipment, and indicate that laboratory sampling is required.

All imported meat shipments on intensified inspection are detained and will require negative laboratory results before they can be released to the importer.

The intensified inspection rule does not apply to investigative results for M105: Nitrate and Nitrite. However, the competent authority of the exporting country will be asked to conduct an investigation comprising of the review of the concerned foreign processing establishment's formulation activities and related controls and the status of the company's HACCP plan for nitrites and nitrates. The National Specialist, upon receipt of the foreign country's response, may decide to resample similar product from the subject foreign establishment.

5. Annual Laboratory Sampling Plans

5.1 Microbiology

Details of sampling requirements can be found in the "Guidelines for the Microbiology Sampling Plans in Red Meat and Poultry Meat Products" available from the Area Sampling Specialist. A new guideline is issued for each fiscal year.

5.1.1 Sample Plan M202: Laboratory Sampling of Imported Ground Beef and Veal

Imported raw ground beef and raw ground veal will be sampled for E. coli counts, E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli O157:NM. Refer to the annual sampling plan guidelines.

5.1.2 Sample Plan M203: Microbiology - for imported ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products, including fermented products

Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella are pathogens associated with meat products. All ready to eat and fermented meat shipments imported into Canada must be randomly monitored for presence of these bacteria using this sampling plan.

An imported meat product with the appearance of being ready to eat may be sampled under this program unless the product is labelled as "uncooked" or similar words and cooking instructions, as per section 94 (6.1) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990. Refer to the sampling plan guidelines and instructions for submission details.

Care must be taken to withdraw samples aseptically to prevent false readings. If possible take the required number of sub-samples as intact packages. If the sum of the required sub-samples does not meet the required weight then take additional sub-samples to reach the required weight. Products imported in the frozen state must be submitted to the lab frozen. If the imported product is not frozen, the sample must be sent to the laboratory in a non frozen state. Ice packs and insulated containers must be used to ensure refrigerated samples arrive at the lab below 7°C. The quickest means possible to get the sample to the lab should be used.

5.1.3 Sample Plan M206: Laboratory Sampling of Imported Hermetically Sealed Meat Products

Laboratory sampling of imported hermetically sealed meat products is required to verify commercial sterility and container integrity.

Two hundred sub-samples of imported hermetically sealed meat products are to be taken from full inspection import shipments. If defects (major and minor) are found during the inspection of sub-samples, ten cans will be selected, five with defects and five with no defects, for a laboratory sample. When defects are found, the lots are to be detained pending laboratory results.

5.1.4 Sample Plan M219: Laboratory Sampling of Imported Beef Trims

This plan has been developed for imported beef trimmings and chuck intended for use in raw ground beef. The samples will be analyzed for generic E. coli count and E. coli O157:H7/NM. Refer to the annual sampling plan guidelines.

5.1.5 M210 / M211: Laboratory Sampling for Species Verification of Imported Raw / Ready to Eat Meat Products

A sample from a full inspection imported lot will consist of one sub-sample or one intact consumer package of the required size. Refer to the annual plan sampling guidelines. The laboratory sample submission form as indicated in section 3.4 of this annex should indicate Species Verification as the reason for the sampling and indicate the species declared on the label or the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC).

5.1.5.1 Sample Plan M210

Only raw ground meat products (e.g. raw sausage and pre-processing meat slurries) or raw meat products comminuted to the extent that it would be impossible by sight to determine the meat species to be sampled. Products with statements on the label saying 100% pure beef, pork, chicken, etc. should be sampled due to the species claim. Frozen ground beef patties would be an example of a raw meat product to submit for testing.

5.1.5.2 Sample Plan M211

Imported meat products which are either ready-to-eat meat (RTE) or heat treated but can not be classified as RTE, comminuted to the extent that it would be impossible to determine the meat species by sight will be sampled. Labels with statements 100% pure beef, pork, chicken, should always be sampled. An example of a ready-to-eat imported meat product would be all beef sausage.

5.2 Additives, Composition and Irradiation Sampling Plans

Details of sampling requirements can be found in the "Guidelines for Additives, Compositional and Irradiation Sampling Plans in Meat Products", which is available from the Area Program Specialist. A new guideline is issued for each fiscal year.

5.2.1 Sample Plan M105: Nitrate and Nitrite

Imported cured meat products are sampled for levels of nitrite and nitrates. This includes cured canned, dried, fermented, cooked or partially cooked products. The type of product and type of cure (nitrate or nitrite) from the label information is reported on the submission form.

5.2.2 Sample Plan M111: Calcium, Protein and Bone Particle Size in Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) or Finely Textured Meat (FTM)

Imported MSM or FTM are analyzed for compliance to Canadian requirements for calcium, protein and bone particle size. The type of product (MSM or FTM) must be reported on the submission form.

5.2.3 Sample Plan M123: Protein Content

Sample uncooked, seasoned, solid cut products such as seasoned pork chops, roasts, ribs, loins and tenderloins, and uncooked seasoned, solid cut boneless poultry products such as chicken/turkey breasts. Report the protein declaration from the nutritional facts table and the minimum meat protein declaration (if applicable) on the submission form.

5.2.4 Sample Plan M127: Irradiation

Raw, chilled/frozen meat products with high fat content including ground meats and trimmings may be sampled under this plan.

6. Laboratory Sampling for Imported Meat Residue Monitoring

Annex M-1 of this chapter contains a plan for the testing of imported meat products for residues. The frequency and types of meat products required for testing depend on the country of origin. Analyze fresh (non preserved) meat products as kidneys, hearts, livers and muscle for heavy metals, pesticides, hormones and other chemical and environmental residues.

Sub-samples are taken at random, and should represent separate animals from the inspection lot. Sub-samples are bagged and identified to the import shipment. Samples should be frozen and packed in dry ice or ice packs within insulated containers prior to shipping to the laboratory.

Residue monitoring samples are submitted to laboratories listed in Annex M-1 of this chapter.

A photocopy of the laboratory sample submission form, as indicated in section 3.4 of this annex, shall should be completed and submitted with the samples. The reason for sampling shall be indicated under "other" and state Import Residues Monitoring. The IIR control number for the shipment is used as the sample number.

Laboratory results are not returned to the inspector who submitted the sample. The laboratory results are forwarded to National Manager, Chemical Residues Bureau of Food Safety and Consumer Protection, CFIA, in Ottawa. Positive results would be given to the National Specialist, Imports Program, MPD, in Ottawa. The foreign country establishment will be placed on intensified inspection in the ICTS. Refer to intensified inspection procedures of this annex.

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