Annex P: Organoleptic and Laboratory Examination Inspection

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1. Introduction

Full import inspection procedures consist of:

  • visual import inspection;
  • organoleptic inspection of samples; and,
  • laboratory examination of samples.

The inspector must perform the visual import inspection procedure and organoleptic inspection of samples every time "full" import inspection has been assigned by the Import Control Tracking System (ICTS). Laboratory examination of samples must be considered every time full import inspection has been assigned by the ICTS.

1.1 Definitions

Visual Import Inspection: Procedure is described in detail in Annex O.

Organoleptic Import Inspection: Is a physical examination of a representative number of sample units (e.g., cartons, carcasses, combo bins), drawn at the end of visual inspection, using the senses of touch, smell, sight to determine the wholesomeness and cleanliness of a meat product.

Primary Sampling Plan: Is the initial selection of sample units for full organoleptic examination.

Secondary Sampling Plan: Is the plan for further selection of sample units required when deficiencies are found during the primary sampling plan.

Samples for Laboratory Examination: Must be drawn from the sample units selected for full organoleptic inspection according to laboratory examination sampling plans. Refer to Annex M and Annex M-1.

Sample Unit: Is the individual container (box/tote or combo) that is examined as a separate unit.

Sub-Sample: Is a representative portion of the contents of the sample unit withdrawn for the purposes of inspection.

1.2 Categories of Meat Products

For the purposes of full import inspection the imported meat products are placed in the following categories. Specific inspection criteria for each category are further described in Annexes P-1 to P-6 of this chapter.

  • Fresh meat other than poultry meat, packed in boxes or combos (beef, veal, pork, lamb, sheep, goat, venison, ratites and their respective cuts) (Annex P-1);
  • Fresh poultry and rabbit carcasses and cuts packed in boxes or combos (Annex P-2);
  • Fresh beef and veal carcasses and quarters (Annex P-3);
  • Fresh pork, sheep and goat carcasses (Annex P-1 or Annex P-3 (swine carcasses));
  • Commercially sterile shelf stable meat products in hermetically sealed containers (rigid metal, flexible, glass jars) (Annex P-5);
  • Cooked boneless beef from countries not free of Foot and Mouth Disease (Annex P-4); and,
  • All other types (Annex P-6).

The categories group the meat products on similarities of production, processing and public and animal health safety. Inspection plans are assigned by the ICTS based on these categories. Products belonging to the same category from the same foreign processing establishments are targeted for an increased level of inspection following a refusal of a shipment for public health related reasons.

2. Shipments Requiring Full Inspection

  • All shipments identified on the Multi-Commodity Activities Program (MCAP) Import Inspection Report (IIR) for full inspection.
  • Shipments from the United States identified on MCAP IIR for skip lot inspection when an inspector has a reasonable belief that the product is not in conformity with the Meat Inspection Act (MIA) or the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (MIR).
  • All shipments identified on MCAP IIR for a summary/visual inspection when an Inspector has a reasonable belief that the product is not in conformity with the MIA or the MIR.

3. Selection and Handling of Sample Units

3.1 All inspection procedures, from the unloading of the lot to the final decision by the inspector on that lot, shall be carried out at the same establishment.

3.2 Once the visual inspection has been completed and the inspection results recorded, the inspector shall continue with the organoleptic portion of the full import inspection. The inspector shall verify that the sampling plan(s) generated by the ICTS is appropriate for the product category of the lot(s) involved by comparing to the sampling plan detailed in the corresponding Annex P-1 to P-6. The sample unit numbers assigned randomly by the ICTS, listed on the IIR, are to be used to select the sample units. Adjustments may be necessary when the number of units of the lot received is less than the quantity indicated on the IIR and the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC).

3.3 When assigning numbers to sample unit cartons, for organoleptic sampling purposes, the inspector shall count each unit in the shipment beginning at the lower left-hand corner of the first pallet in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise pattern. Regardless of which direction is chosen, it shall be the same for each pallet within that lot. The corresponding sample numbers assigned by the IIR will be written on the sample units as the count is made. A company employee will withdraw the numbered sample units from the shipment.

An alternative method would be for the inspector to assign the sample unit numbers during the manual unloading of the transport container. Start on the top left corner at the back of the load as the first carton, proceeding to unload across each row in a left to right direction, counting each carton as it is being placed on a pallet and setting aside the selected sample units. The sample unit number is to be written on each selected carton.

For the allocation of numbers to combo bin sample units, refer to Annex H-2 (available for CFIA personnel use only). Refer to Annex P-3 for information on selection of sample units for carcasses or portions on rails.

The operator should be given the option to select the secondary sample plan at the same time as the primary sample plan to avoid having to restage the lot should the need for the secondary sampling plan arise.

3.4 The inspector shall control the selection of sample units and shall have each unit marked "CFIA Sample". Every sample shall be stamped once for the initial primary sampling plan and twice for the secondary sampling plan if selected simultaneously.

3.5 The inspection facility shall maintain and present the sample units in a designated room or area:

  1. with adequate lighting, ventilation and plumbing to meet the requirements of the activities carried out therein and constructed so as to facilitate their cleaning and disinfection (MIR 28.1(g); and,
  2. where equipment, utensils and all other physical facilities of a registered establishment shall be maintained in a sanitary condition (MIR 34.1 and 2).

For details of facilities requirements see Annex K-1 of this chapter (available for CFIA personnel use only) and Chapter 2 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures (MOP).

It is the responsibility of the operator to assure that the designated room or area is clean and sanitized according to the written sanitation program, prior to use.

It is the responsibility of the operator to maintain integrity of the sample units throughout the full import inspection process.

3.6 Inspection Room Procedures

The operator shall move the selected sample units to the inspection room or area within the establishment and prepare it for the inspection. The sample units shall be placed on designated racks or tables. If the surfaces of tables are used for placing of shipping containers for inspection, no exposed meat products may come into contact with those surfaces until they are fully cleaned and sanitized. Meat products originating from Animal Health restricted foreign countries shall not be inspected in the same room, at the same time, as other products destined for import or export due to possible end use restrictions. Refer to Chapter 11 of the MOP for end use restrictions of specific countries.

Meats of different species shall not be handled in a manner that could result in cross contamination. Inspection rooms shall be cleaned and sanitized when necessary to prevent cross contamination between incompatible products or when there are end use restrictions. During sample preparation and inspections, the operator shall assure that the sample units are handled at all times in a manner that will maintain their wholesomeness and integrity.

For frozen meat products defrosted by air, the establishment shall remove the meat product from the shipping container and place the block along with the protective plastic liner onto the examination table. The operator shall assure that the thawing/tempering of the sample will not compromise the integrity of the meat product. As soon as the sample is ready for organoleptic inspection the inspector shall be informed. It is the responsibility of the inspector to perform the organoleptic sample inspection as soon as possible after he or she has been notified by the operator that the sample has been prepared as required. The operator must provide assistance to the inspector to handle the sample units during the organoleptic sample inspection. This may include withdrawal of sub-samples from sampling units, opening of shipping containers and/or immediate packaging, re-packing cartons, etc.

For details of inspection procedures including preparation of product for inspection, quantity of product to inspect, and handling of defects identified during the inspection, refers to the appropriate Annex P-1 to P-6 according to the product category. Sample units from which laboratory samples have been drawn are to be identified to indicate that an official sample has been taken (examples of a rubber stamp stating the CFIA sample taken and the date or CFIA/ACIA 0013 sticker are in Annex T-3, available for CFIA personnel use only).

The operator shall ensure that the meat products examined are returned to the original corresponding shipping containers or, if not possible, they shall be repackaged hygienically in a new shipping container. The shipping container shall be appropriately labelled and marked (tamper-evident sealed if necessary) to identify it with the imported lot. The sample shall be immediately returned to the original frozen or refrigerated state and shall be returned to the original imported lot, by the operator.

3.7 The inspector shall thoroughly examine each sub-sample for defects and if present assign them as Critical, Major or Minor according to the inspection criteria referenced in Annexes P-1 to P-5. The presence of a critical defect observed in any sub-sample unit will result in the rejection of the lot.

3.8 As soon as the organoleptic sample inspection has been concluded, the inspector shall notify the operator of the inspection results. A copy of the IIR indicating the inspection results shall be provided to the operator. The inspector shall maintain control of the sample units at all times until the lot has been inspected and passed or if refused, removed from Canada.

4. Tempering and Thawing Methods

When the category of meat product to be examined is required to be tempered or thawed prior to organoleptic inspection, the following methods may be used.

4.1 Tempering

The establishment shall sufficiently temper frozen cuts (except cuts which require complete defrosting) to remove all surface frost and render the surface pliable in order that the inspector can separate portions and determine the condition of the product.

4.2 Defrosting

The defrosting may be accomplished by the use of cold, potable and continuously exchanged water, by air or by any other approved acceptable method. Refer to Chapter 4 of the MOP for acceptable thawing procedures. The defrost procedures must prevent product contamination.

4.2.1 Air Defrosting

While the use of multiple shelf units for tempering are tolerated, it is recommended that air defrosting of frozen sample units be carried out on the examination tables which are equipped with the appropriate slopes and drain mechanisms. During air defrosting, it may be prudent for the establishment to remove the sample units from the numbered shipping containers in order to prevent staining of the containers. The sample removed from each container shall be identified with that carton number. The ambient room temperature shall not exceed 21°C and the product surface temperature shall not exceed 7°C.

4.2.2 Water Defrosting

When defrosting is accomplished by immersion in water, the establishment shall supply high quality, approved plastic bags or another acceptable means of preventing the defrost water from coming in contact with, and adulterating, the sub-sample units. If a sub-sample unit does come into contact with the defrost water, it shall be condemned and a new sub-sample drawn from the same shipping container as the original sub-sample, sample unit. The defrost water shall be cold, potable and continuously exchanged. Thawing shall be monitored to determine when all portions of the meat sample unit have thawed and to minimize the time that the temperature, in any portion of the meat, is above 4°C.

4.2.3 Other Methods

Other methods of defrosting will be considered following a CFIA evaluation.

5. Handling of Shipments

5.1 Shipments Found in Compliance

Shipments can be released to the importer. Consideration should be given to possible marking and end use related restrictions that may require further tracking such as the requirements for unmarked meats to be delivered to registered establishments for processing.

5.2 Non Compliant Shipments

Refused shipments are to remain under detention pending removal from the country. The inspector shall follow the procedures in Annex J with respect to refusal of imported meat products.

The importer may request that permission be granted to correct certain non compliances. For details refer to Annex J.

All defects identified during an inspection are to be detained with the shipment and documented.

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