ARCHIVED - Transforming Inspection Activities

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CFIA Transformation

  • Why are we doing this?
    • Globalization and industry consolidation
    • Shifting consumer landscape – aging population and increasing expectations
    • Evolving production and processing technologies
    • Emerging pathogens and diseases
    • Increased knowledge of risk and systems-based approaches
    • Advances in science and technology
    • Modernization initiatives of trading partners

What is CFIA Transformation?

  • A comprehensive agenda to strengthen our legislative foundation, regulatory programs and inspection delivery
  • CFIA's transformation agenda is focussed on the four inter-connected pillars of the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan:
    • stronger safety rules;
    • more effective inspection;
    • commitment to service; and
    • more information for consumers.
  • Transformation efforts started with food, with plant and animal following

What to Expect in a Modernized Environment

  • Modernized inspection delivery will generate positive outcomes
    • Greater consistency and predictability of regulatory results
    • The CFIA having an enhanced ability to put resources where there are higher risks
    • Streamlined business processes, including a centralized administrative system, operations guidance and training, that will result in CFIA internal efficiencies and outward facing common practices for the Industry
    • CFIA inspection delivery that integrates risk assessment and supports the granting of permission, including licensing and issuance of export certificates
    • The CFIA will verify regulatory compliance against outcome-based standards allowing the Industry more flexibility to determine how they will meet regulatory requirements
  • The CFIA's inspectorate would also have an organization culture that is service-oriented and based on behaviours that demonstrate courage, rigour and respect.

Inspection Activities in the Field

  • As the CFIA transforms and modernizes, it is working to ensure that its inspection activities are risk-based, appropriate, consistent and support the implementation of the new inspection model
  • Field Inspection includes the following key functions:
    • Import inspection
    • Export inspection
    • Surveillance
    • Compliance verification

Import Oversight

  • A Preventive Control Plan (PCP) will be required by importers
  • Import oversight will be a determination of whether there is a permission for entry of a product or commodity into Canada
  • The same compliance verification process for domestic producers will be undertaken by the CFIA, although additional inspection activities might be needed to support a decision to allow entry of an importer's goods
  • Import oversight will include: survey activities, document reviews, inspection of shipments or lots if required
  • The CFIA will partner with the Canada Border Services Agency in activities at the border and electronic interchange of data

Export Oversight

  • A PCP will be required to receive export certificates
  • The same compliance verification process as domestic producers will be undertaken, although the CFIA may undertake additional inspection activities in response to exporting country requirements to facilitate trade and will cost recover such additional services (e.g. quality inspections)
  • Export oversight will include: survey activities, document reviews, inspection of shipments or lots if required

Surveillance Activities

  • Surveillance is the gathering of information on the state of compliance of a sector or product to inform risk assessment, or contribute to development of program and priorities
  • Surveys could include sampling, testing and/or inspection activities
    • Surveys will be planned and have defined objectives and expected outcomes (e.g. assessing compliance of imported fish products for net quantity)
    • Inspectors will be provided tools and information on how to conduct the activity and guidance on expected outcomes and responses if appropriate

Compliance Verification

  • Compliance verification is the assessment of a product, entity and/or a license holder's PCP against a regulatory standard or requirement
    • Priority inspection focus on food safety, plant and animal health
    • License holder's PCP must address compliance with all requirements such as labelling, grade, and net quantity
    • Responses to non-compliance include:
      • the CFIA providing inspection reports and formal requests to correct non-compliance
      • requirement for the license holder to implement the appropriate corrective actions

Shared Responsibility

  • Industry will be responsible for regulatory compliance through their preventive control plans for food, plant and/or animal and be expected to:
    • Implement and monitor their systems so that they are effective and meet regulatory requirements
    • Ensure their staff are familiar with their system and will know how to respond appropriately
    • Demonstrate that their system is in control through documentation
  • The CFIA will verify compliance of the PCP system of control focusing on the seven elements of the PCP

PCP Elements

The seven elements of the PCP

  1. Process and product control
  2. Sanitation, biosecurity, bio containment, pest control, chemicals
  3. Hygiene, biosecurity and employee training
  4. Equipment, design and maintenance
  5. Physical structure, surroundings and maintenance
  6. Receiving, transportation, storage
  7. Traceability, recall and complaints

Approach to a CFIA Verification of a PCP

The inspector will:

  • Physically walk through the inside and outside of the establishment
  • Finalize the scope of the inspection
  • Conduct an assessment of the seven elements (or some elements ) of the PCP by:
    • observing physical conditions such as state of repair of equipment and its maintenance
    • reviewing documentation processes and example documents
    • assessing the knowledge of staff on implementation and processes
    • reviewing product testing and measure processes and review outcomes
  • Assess the state of implementation of the PCP control system and its compliance with regulatory requirements

Example of a CFIA Inspection of a PCP

  • Complex operation and higher risk
  • Basic operation and lower risk


  1. What can you do to prepare for this new approach?
  2. What information do you need to be ready for this approach?
  3. How can the CFIA help prepare you to be successful?


  • By email:
  • By mail:

    Strategic Partnerships Division
    1400 Merivale Road, Tower 1
    Floor 6, Suite 218
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
    Attn: Linda Webster

  • By fax: 613-773-5606
  • To stay connected with the CFIA, sign up to our Listserv
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