In Canada, nearly 100 percent of food samples tested for the presence of microbial contaminants between April 2018 and March 2022 were deemed “satisfactory,” according to a recently published interim report from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Specifically, from April 1, 2018–March 31, 2022, a total of 18,811 food samples were tested in a suite of ongoing targeted surveys to investigate the presence of bacterial pathogens and indicator organisms, viruses, and parasites. The following commodities, which were targeted due to their frequent consumption and association with recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks across Canada, were included in the sampling and testing activities:
- Raw and pasteurized cheese
- Non-cow dairy milk
- Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
- Plant-based foods
- Powdered infant formula and baby food
- Fresh herb paste
- Raw shelled nuts
- Ready-to-eat (RTE) sausages.
Of the samples tested, 99.2 percent were satisfactory, 0.8 percent were investigative, and 0.06 percent were unsatisfactory. In the case of investigative and unsatisfactory samples, CFIA conducted appropriate follow-up activities including the oversight of voluntary food recalls. There were no reported illnesses related to these products. Samples were tested and analyzed using methods and criteria endorsed by Health Canada and CFIA.
Samples were collected from national retail chains and local or regional grocery stores in 11 major Canadian cities: Halifax, Saint John, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. Consumer packages weighing at least 250 grams (g) were collected for sampling, and the number of samples gathered from each city was based on the relative population of its province in comparison to the total population of Canada.
As the interim report covers surveys that are ongoing, upon conclusion of the surveys, final reports or scientific publications will be published by CFIA. The results of the survey will be used to inform risk management decisions and support program design and redesign.