Memorandum (Clarification) - Swabbing of Food Contact Surface (FCS) when production line is not operational

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January 23, 2012

1400 Merivale Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9

To: Area Meat Program Managers, Area Program Specialists, Supervisors, Inspectors-in-Charge (IIC) and Veterinarians-in-Charge (VIC) of federally registered meat and poultry processing establishments.

Under operator’s mandated testing of Food Contact Surface (FCS) in meat and poultry processing establishments, operators are required to test FCS on each production line for Listeria spp. as per section 5.2.3 of Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures Chapter 4 Annex H. The sampling frequency is determined according to the risk category of Ready-to-Eat (RTE) product and the Relative Risk Level (RRL) under which RTE products are produced. Sampling of FCS must be evenly distributed throughout the prescribed period. In certain situations the production line(s) may be out of production for part of the specified period of time (e.g., one or more weeks in a month). In such instances, it is not necessarily expected that the sampling be compressed into the remaining portion of the period (i.e. to uniformly distribute all samples during the remainder of the period), especially when production line(s) is sampled 2/3/4 times per month. The following approach is recommended in such scenarios:

  • Operator identifies the production line and the time period for which the line is out of operation.
  • Operator provides the reason as to why the line is out of operation.
  • Samples which would normally have been collected during this period of inactivity would not need to be collected.
  • When the line returns to normal operation, sampling of FCS for the remaining week(s) of that month is performed at regular frequency.


  • If the sampling frequency is 4 samples /line/month, and the line is shut down for two weeks, only two samples would be expected to be collected during the operational weeks.
  • If the sampling frequency is 2 samples /line/month, and the line was only shut down for one week, the two required samples would be expected to be collected during two operational weeks.
  • If the period(s) of inactivity for a particular line is less than one week in length, samples would need to be collected during operational days of that week.

Thank you in advance for your co-operations.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by:

Dr. Martin Appelt
National Veterinary Program Manager
Meat Programs Division

Note: IIC and VIC to share this information with operators.

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