The vast majority of food on the market in Canada meets standards for chemical residues, according to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) report summarizing sampling activities conducted in 2020–2021.

The National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP) is an annual CFIA regulatory surveillance program that verifies the compliance of certain foods to Canadian standards and guidelines for chemical residues and contaminants. Foods included in the monitoring program span seven commodity groups, which are:

  • Meat
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Honey
  • Maple products
  • Processed fruits and vegetables.

The report also includes testing results from the fresh fruit and vegetable portion of the Food Safety Oversight (FSO) Program, which was introduced to complement the NCRMP and to increase CFIA's oversight in the non-meat food sectors.

Samples were tested for five classes of chemical:

  • Veterinary drugs
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic heavy metals
  • Environmental chemicals 
  • Mycotoxins.

Between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, more than 95,000 tests for residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides, metals, and contaminants were performed on approximately 12,500 NCRMP and FSO monitoring samples. Overall, the compliance rate of the samples to Canadian chemical residue standards was 96.6 percent, which is consistent with past years.

Despite the overall high compliance rate, three commodity groups had rates below the program target of 95 percent—imported fresh fruit and vegetables, domestic eggs, and imported dairy products with 93.8 percent, 91 percent, and 87.4 percent compliance rates, respectively. Most of the positive results in domestic eggs were from residues of drugs used to treat enteric parasites in chickens. Imported produce was largely noncompliant because of pesticides used in the grower countries that are not registered in Canada. Imported dairy samples were mostly noncompliant due to veterinary drugs in cheeses.

NCRMP is carried out in accordance with Codex Alimentarius principles and guidelines, and are equivalent to those of Canada’s main trading partners like the U.S. and the EU.