Chapter 10 - Imports
10.3 CFIA Meat and Meat Products Import Control Program

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The CFIA's meat and meat products import control system includes the following control elements:

  1. Determination of equivalency of the meat inspection systems of the exporting countries, approval of establishments, product registration and certification of the products, by the competent authorities of those countries, for export to Canada.
  2. Point of entry control - involves review of import documentation and verification of eligibility of the meat product for import to Canada.
  3. Tracking and informatics.
  4. Import inspection program.

10.3.1 Determination of Meat Inspection System Equivalency, Approval of Foreign Establishments and Products Registration

The legal basis for control elements of the CFIA meat import control programs is as follows:

Meat Inspection Act (MIA)

9.(1) No person shall import a meat product into Canada unless;

(a) at the time it was prepared for export, the country from which it originated and any country in which it was processed had meat inspection systems, those systems and the relevant establishments in those countries were approved in writing by the Minister before that time and the approvals were valid at that time;

(b) that person provides an Inspector with evidence satisfactory to the Minister that it meets the prescribed standards for imported meat products;

(c) it meets the prescribed standards for imported meat products; and

(d) it is packaged and labelled in the manner prescribed.

Determination of a foreign countries equivalency is based on the approval of a country's system of meat inspection, approval of establishments operating within that system, and review and registration of individual meat products prepared in these establishments. Details related to foreign country meat inspection system evaluation program for meat only can be found in Annex B of this chapter.

Refer to Annex A of this chapter for a link to the list of countries with approved inspection systems and for the country specific conditions for importation of meat and meat products.

Refer to Annex W of this chapter for procedures for approval of foreign meat establishments eligible to export to Canada.

See the list of foreign establishments approved as eligible to export meat products to Canada.

All shipments of meat products being imported to Canada must be accompanied by a valid Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) for export of meat products to Canada, issued by the competent authority of the exporting country. The certificates must be individually numbered, with specific reference to the country of origin and the numbers must not have been repeated within the preceding 12 months on any meat product imported from the same country. The certificate format as well as the required attestations are negotiated and established at the time of the system review. The OMIC is the main document required by the CFIA, as a proof that the imported meat products comply with the applicable Canadian legislation, both from the public and animal health points of view. For this reason, attestations required by the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations as well as the Health of Animals Act and Regulations must be present, specific to the meat products and the animal health status of the exporting country.

The OMIC specifies the country of origin of the meat products as well as the slaughter, processing and exporting establishments implicated in the production and export to Canada. In addition to the product information, the certificate must specify the exporter and the importer. The importer must be a Canadian entity, person or company, with a Canadian address.

Details related to the format of the certificates and the procedures for use of the certificates can be found in Annex C of this chapter.

10.3.2 Point of Entry Control

Verification of the eligibility of the shipments is carried out at the National Import Service Centre (NISC). Importers and/or import brokers are required to present all certificates to the NISC, before the shipment is allowed to enter Canada. At the NISC, the officials review the required documents for validity and the necessary attestations.

The data on each shipment is entered into the Import Control and Tracking System (ICTS). The ICTS automatically verifies eligibility of the country, establishments and the label registration number. In addition to this information, the ICTS also verifies validity of shipping marks to assure that the same shipping mark was not used within the preceding 12 months on any meat product imported from the same country. Shipping marks are unique numbers, or combinations of letters and numbers that positively identify each and every shipping container within the shipment with the corresponding OMIC. The OMIC numbers may be used as shipping marks. More details about the use of shipping marks can be found in Annex D of this chapter.

The CBSA will not allow any meat product to enter Canada, except as described in 10.2.5, unless the importer/broker presents them with a proof that the CFIA has reviewed the required documents, determined that the shipment is eligible to enter and that the CFIA is taking over the tracking of the shipment, for its own purposes, until the required inspections have taken place and the shipment may be released to the importer.

For details consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Import Service Centre.

10.3.3 Tracking and Informatics

Data on all imported meat product shipments is entered into the ICTS. The ICTS is a national, automated computerized system that allows the CFIA to capture data on all imported meat product shipments, verify validity of the certificate number and the shipping marks, verify eligibility of the exporting country, slaughter, processing and exporting establishments and the label registration number, for export to Canada.

The ICTS generates an Import Inspection Report (IIR) and an invoice (for collection of CFIA fees associated with clearance of imported meat shipments) for each shipment. The report is the record of the import transaction for tracking purposes and provides the importer with the inspection assigned to the shipment.

For details consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Import Service Centre.

10.3.4 Inspection of Imported Meat Product Shipments

10.3.4.1 Legal Basis

The Meat Inspection Act requires the importer to present each imported meat product shipment to the CFIA for inspection.

MIA

9.(2) Every person who imports a meat product into Canada shall, as soon as possible, deliver it, in its imported condition, to a registered establishment for inspection by an Inspector.

9.(3) No person shall have in his possession an imported meat product that the person knows;

  • (a) has been imported into Canada in contravention of subsection 9(1); or
  • (b) has not been delivered to a registered establishment for inspection as required by subsection 9(2).

10.(1) No person shall advertise or sell or have in his possession for any such purpose an imported meat product that;

  • (a) has been imported into Canada in contravention of subsection 9(1); or
  • (b) has not been delivered to a registered establishment for inspection as required by subsection 9(2).

10.3.4.2 Import Inspection Program

Based on the above legal requirements, the CFIA has in place a meat product import inspection program. The program for inspection of meat products imported from the US varies from the program for meat products imported from all the other countries (offshore). This difference is based on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and is reflected in the MIR:

MIR

3.(5) Subject to subsection (6), for the purpose of implementing the Agreement as defined in section 2 of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, section 8 and subsection 9(2) of the Act do not apply in respect of a meat product that is;

  • (a) imported into Canada from the United States, as defined in section 2 of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; and
  • (b) certified, by a Veterinarian who is empowered by the United States Department of Agriculture to enforce the national meat inspection legislation of the United States, as being a product of that country and as meeting the standards set out in these Regulations and as being packaged and labelled in accordance with these Regulations.

3.(6) Spot checks or similar verifying measures, including any such measures conducted at the border and including any unloading requirements, may be conducted in respect of a meat product that is imported into Canada from the United States by an Inspector, at facilities designated by the Director.

Subsection 3.(5) exempts the meat shipments imported from the United States from the requirement for obligatory delivery of all imported meat shipments to a registered establishment for inspection. The subsection 3.(6) replaces that requirement by a more open requirement for import inspection of shipments imported from the United States, at the discretion of the Director, Meat Programs Division. The shipments designated for full organoleptic inspection must be presented in a Canadian establishment registered specifically for inspection of meat products imported from the United States. The shipments designated as "skip lots" are released at the border and need not be presented to a CFIA Inspector in a Canadian registered establishment for inspection. All skip lots that are also unmarked meat products must however be delivered to a Canadian establishment registered for the processing of meat products or the packaging and labelling of meat products, as prescribed by the section 115 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.

10.3.4.2.1 Initial Shipments from Eligible Foreign Establishments

A minimum of the first 10 consecutive shipments from the foreign establishment, newly authorized for export to Canada, are subjected to full organoleptic inspections in a Canadian establishment registered for the purpose. After 10 consecutive shipments have successfully passed full organoleptic import inspections, the establishment will be automatically placed into the reduced inspection mode.

10.3.4.2.2 Reduced Inspection Mode

One in every 10 consecutive imported shipments (United States and offshore), chosen at random by the ICTS, is subjected to full organoleptic import inspection. From offshore countries the other 9 shipments receive a cursory visual inspection at a registered inspection establishment.

For meat product from the United States, the other 9 shipments are not assigned an inspection by the ICTS. These are referred to as "skip lots" and may be released at the border by the CBSA to general commerce in Canada except for "unmarked" meat products which must be directed to a registered establishment for further processing. Refer to Annex I-2 for further information regarding "unmarked" meat products.

10.3.4.2.3 Intensified Inspection Mode

  1. Immediately after an imported shipment of meat product fails import inspection for major product deficiencies, the ICTS will automatically designate all shipments of related meat products from the same foreign establishment for full organoleptic import inspection until 10 consecutive lots pass successfully.
  2. When imported shipments of meat products are subjected to sampling for laboratory analysis, under a CFIA monitoring program and if violative levels are reported, the responsible CFIA headquarters (HQ) staff will create a specific intensified inspection plan for the same type of meat product from the same foreign establishment. Fifteen consecutive lots, of at least 15 times the weight of the lot found in violation will be sampled by the CFIA. The products will be held in a registered establishment pending receipt of laboratory results.

10.3.4.2.4 Establishments Registered for Inspection of Imported Meat Products

  1. The United States shipments designated by the ICTS for full organoleptic import inspection must be presented in establishments registered for inspection of imported meat products and designated by the MPD, for inspection of imported United States meat products (Establishment activity code 9B/US or 9C/US).
  2. All offshore shipments of imported meat products must be presented in establishments registered for inspection of imported meat products (Establishment activity codes 9B, 9C).
  3. All shipments of frozen cooked tubed boneless beef from South American countries not free of FMD must be presented for inspection in establishments located in close proximity to Canadian International sea ports and designated for that purpose (Establishment activity code 9A).

10.3.4.2.5 Inspection of Imported Meat Products

All imported shipments of meat and meat products from countries other than the United States and all United States shipments designated for full organoleptic import inspection must be delivered to a Canadian establishment, registered for that purpose, for an inspection by a CFIA Inspector.

When the shipments to be inspected arrive in the registered establishments the Inspector must check for presence of seals, where necessary, on the transport containers and verify the numbers against those on the OMIC. In some instances, this function can be delegated to a responsible employee of the establishment when appropriate documented control is in place and has been accepted by the Inspector.

All imported shipments to be inspected must be staged inside the establishment to allow the Inspector to carry out cursory, overall, inspection of the shipment. All shipping containers are examined for signs of damage and possible refrigeration failure during transport.

The Inspector must also check acceptability of the labelling and marking and verify that the product being presented for inspection is the same and of the same quantity as is certified. Presence of shipping marks on all shipping containers must be checked and the numbers verified against those on the certificate. Details of the cursory inspection procedures, standards and disposition criteria can be found in Annex O of this chapter.

Following a satisfactory cursory inspection, shipments assigned for full organoleptic inspection will have a number of shipping containers selected for further evaluation. The selection is made according to the random numbers sampling plan specified on the IIR. These containers will be moved to the designated CFIA inspection room/area for further examination. Refer to Annex P for more information on full organoleptic inspection.

10.3.4.2.6 Laboratory Sampling Plans

At the time of the full organoleptic inspection, monitoring samples for laboratory examination may be required to be drawn. The shipments are not detained pending receipt of the laboratory results. The types of samples for laboratory monitoring of imported meat products are described in Annex M of this chapter. The monitoring samples may be drawn for the following examinations:

  1. Chemical residue monitoring - meat product imports. Refer to Annex M-1
  2. Meat Microbiology Sampling Plan M202

When imported shipments of meat products are found to have violative levels as a result of CFIA microbiology or chemical residue monitoring, the responsible CFIA Head Quarter staff will create a specific intensified inspection plan for the same type of meat product from the same foreign establishment. For details, see section 10.3.4.2.3.(2.) and Annex M of this chapter.

10.3.4.2.7 Acceptance of Shipments and Release to Importers

The CFIA will notify the importer or their representative of the successful inspection. The inspected lots are released to the importer subject to the following:

Fully marked shipments have no restrictions with respect to the final use or the destination.

Unmarked imported meat products must be delivered to a Canadian establishment registered for the processing of meat products or the packaging and labelling of meat products, as prescribed by the section 115 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990. Meat products imported from the United States for which some Canadian requirements have been waived must be dealt with as though they were unmarked meat products, until they have been processed and exported from Canada in their entirety. Refer to Annex I-1 of this chapter.

Un-stamped imported meat products may be shipped anywhere within Canada. Seals are required when shipped to another registered establishment.

For details of requirements for shipping and receiving of unmarked and un-stamped meat products in registered establishments consult the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures Annex I-2 of this chapter.

10.3.4.2.8 Refusal of Imported Shipments

Section 18 of the MIA provides the legal basis for dealing with shipments of meat products that are or have been imported into Canada in contravention of the Canadian legislation.

The Inspector may seize and detain the shipments (MIA 15, 16, 17) and/or order them out of Canada (MIA 18.(1)) at the time of the clearance, at the import inspection or any time after the shipments were released to the importer. In cases where a meat product imported to Canada out of compliance with the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations is used in manufacture of a meat product, the CFIA may consider recall of the final meat product. The Inspector is not required to seize and detain the shipments, before the shipments are ordered out of Canada (MIA 18.(1)).

The Notice to remove these shipments from Canada must be either hand delivered or sent by registered mail to the importer, who will have 90 days to comply with the order. See Annex J-1 of this chapter for a template of the Notice.

Legal basis

MIA 18

18.(1) Where an Inspector believes on reasonable grounds that any meat product is being or has been imported into Canada in contravention of this Act or the Regulations, the Inspector may, whether or not the Inspector seizes the meat product pursuant to section 15, require the importer to remove it from Canada by giving the importer a notice for its removal delivered to the importer personally or sent by registered mail to the importer's business address in Canada.

18.(2) Where any meat product is not removed from Canada within a period of ninety days after a notice for its removal was delivered or sent to the importer under subsection (1), or within such longer period after the delivery or sending of the notice as may be authorized by the Minister, it shall, notwithstanding section 16, be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of Canada and may be disposed of, as the Minister may direct, at the expense of the importer.

When shipments of meat products are ordered out of Canada, the importers must provide notification of a place and the time of the removal acceptable to the CFIA. Refer to Annex J-2 of this chapter. The CFIA will witness removal of the refused imported meat products from Canada in accordance with the MIR section 124.

124. The importer of a meat product who has been given a notice for removal of the meat product from Canada referred to in subsection 18(1) of the Act shall present the meat product to an Inspector for verification of the removal of the meat product at the time and place of its removal.

Refused shipments that failed to be removed within the prescribed time shall be destroyed under CFIA supervision, at the importer's expense.

Detailed procedures for handling of imported meat product shipments found upon import inspection not to comply with Canadian requirements can be found in Annex J of this chapter.

10.3.4.2.9 Failure to Present Meat Products for Import Inspection (FTP)

Imported meat products identified by the ICTS for import inspection that were not presented to a CFIA Inspector for inspection in a registered establishment must be viewed as illegally imported.

The CFIA has a tracking procedure in place to identify FTPs before they enter distribution into general commerce within Canada. Details of the procedure and indications of how to deal with the FTPs can be found in Annex I-3 of this chapter.

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