CFIA Peer Review Procedure related to the Canada Organic Regime (COR)

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1.0 Scope and Purpose:

This procedure describes the approach that is followed by the CFIA when conducting a peer review of a foreign country's competent authority under the Canada Organic Regime (COR).

The purpose of the peer review is to determine the extent to which the assessed foreign country's competent authority demonstrates conformity with the requirements specified in an equivalency arrangement.

2.0 Authority

The authority for the conducting peer review process of a foreign country's equivalency status is provided by:

  1. Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA)
  2. Organic Products Regulations, 2009
  3. Equivalency arrangement with a foreign country

3.0 Preparation for peer review

3.1 The CFIA shall appoint a Peer Review Team leader who will take full responsibility for the peer review process and related communication.

3.2 The COR Peer Review Team will notify the competent authority of its intent to conduct peer review.

3.3 The COR Peer Review Team will define the manner in which the peer review will be conducted.

3.4 Prior to initiating the peer review process the appointed COR Peer Review Team will provide the competent authority with a proposal for the peer review process including:

  • 3.4.1 The proposed number of people conducting the review, their names and affiliations;
  • 3.4.2 The duration of the visit;
  • 3.4.3 The language in which the peer review process will be conducted;
  • 3.4.4 The proposed peer review plan, including visits to certification bodies and certified operators.

3.5 The activities which will be subjected to the peer review process include:

  • 3.5.1 Documentation review;
  • 3.5.2 Record assessment;
  • 3.5.3 Personnel interviews;
  • 3.5.4 Technical assessment of the competent authority's conformity assessment activities;
  • 3.5.5 Witnessing the competent authority perform their accreditation activities, if applicable;
  • 3.5.6 Visit to the competent authority's main office;
  • 3.5.7 Visits to Certification Bodies accredited by the competent authority;
  • 3.5.8 Visits to operators certified under the oversight of the competent authority.

3.6 Prior to the on-site peer review, the COR Peer Review Team will request the competent authority to compete a questionnaire including the following information related to the scope of the peer review:

  • 3.6.1 Methods or procedures to which the competent authority operates;
  • 3.6.2 Copy of the competent authority's quality manual (if available), list of procedures and working instructions, and any associated documents.
  • 3.7 The COR Peer Review Team will not proceed with a peer review unless a written response is received from the competent authority declaring awareness of the manner in which the peer review will be conducted and accepts the visit of the COR Peer Review Team.

4.0 On-Site Peer Review Procedure

4.1 The COR Peer Review Team will commence the on-site review by way of opening meeting with the relevant personnel of the competent authority. At this meeting, the purpose of the peer review and the requirements specified prior to the review will be confirmed, along with the scope of the review and the review plan for the on-site visit.

4.2 During the on-site review the COR Peer Review Team will gather objective evidence that the competent authority conforms to the requirements specified by the equivalency arrangement.

4.3 The COR Peer Review Team will witness a sufficient number of examples and files of the on-site activities of the competent authority personnel, using appropriate sampling techniques to ensure that their fulfilment of requirements is appropriately evaluated.

4.4 The COR Peer Review Team will interview a sufficient number and variety of personnel of the competent authority to provide assurance that they fulfil the requirements.

4.5 The COR Peer Review Team will conclude the on-site visit with a closing meeting prior to leaving the site at which the COR Peer Review Leader shall present the findings. An opportunity will be given to the competent authority to ask questions about the findings and their basis.

4.6 The COR Peer Review Team will prepare a written peer review report within 30 working days of the conclusion of the on-site visit.

4.7 The competent authority will be invited to comment on the peer review report and to describe the specific actions taken or planned to be taken, within a defined time frame, to address any identified findings.

4.8 The competent authority's response will be reviewed by the COR team to determine and confirm if all findings have been satisfactory documented and addressed.

4.9 The CFIA may request additional information from the competent authority if the result from the review does not clearly indicate that all nonconformities have been satisfactory documented and addressed.

4.10 A satisfactory result from the peer review will indicate that the competent authority continues to conform to the requirements as outlined in the equivalence arrangement.

5.0 Communication of the results from the peer review

5.1 The CFIA will make available the results from the peer review to all the departmental groups including Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Global Affairs Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's International Affairs and Market Access Directorate.

5.2 The final report will be posted on the CFIA website.

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