The Compliance Verification System (CVS)
The Compliance Verification System (CVS) is a tool that Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff members use to verify that industry is continually complying with Canada’s federal food safety regulations and policies.
The CVS was first designed in 2005. It was put in place as a pilot project in 2006 and implemented in all of Canada’s federally-registered meat establishments on April 1, 2008.
The CVS is a task-based inspection tool that:
- is based on the CFIA’s regulatory requirements,
- provides clear and consistent direction to CFIA inspectors,
- is capable of adapting to rapidly-changing program requirements, and
- can be applied to any inspection activity, in any commodity’s inspection program.
The CVS describes the tasks that must be completed, as well as the procedures inspectors must follow in order to complete each task, when an inspector is carrying out his or her duties. The benefits of the CVS are consistency:
- in how inspection staff are trained to carry out their duties,
- in how procedural instructions are provided and communicated,
- in how (and where) results are recorded, and
- in how non-compliance is managed.
Flexibility is another benefit of the CVS. The system continually evolves and requirements are updated as new scientific information becomes available.
CVS and meat inspection
Although most consumers are not familiar with the CVS, they benefit from it every time they buy or eat a product that was made in a federally-registered meat establishment.
Why? Because the CVS means that inspection has been done in a consistent, uniform, and efficient way, regardless of which inspector was on the job or where the plant is located.
Members of the CFIA’s meat inspection staff work in federally-registered slaughter plants, processing and packaging establishments, and storage facilities. Depending on the type of facility being inspected and the type of product being made, some or all of more than 90 CVS tasks must be performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.
The CVS requires inspectors to conduct on-site assessments of each plant they are responsible for. They do this by observing plant processing activities and by interviewing plant personnel.
However, while visual inspection is important, reviewing test results and control measures is key to identifying pathogens that cannot be seen. So, CFIA inspectors also independently collect samples for microbiological testing and carry out in-depth reviews of company documents, records and test results.
Inspectors divide their time between assessing each establishment's safety-assurance programs and conducting on-site inspections. While the division can vary on a day-to-day basis, an inspector’s work is generally divided equally between assessments and on-site inspection.
Compliance is normally achieved through cooperation between the plant operator and the inspection staff. The compliance rate for federally-registered meat establishments is very high.
However, when a problem arises, the CFIA requires that the plant operator commit to an action plan to fix the problem and prevent it from re-occurring. The CFIA also verifies that the operator’s plan has been implemented appropriately. When the plan is not successful or when the operator is unwilling or unable to correct the problem, the CFIA pursues stronger enforcement options.
- Compliance Verification System section of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures
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