Food Safety Enhancement Program Manual
Section 1 - Food Safety Enhancement Program Description

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1.1 Introduction

The objective of the Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is to specify minimum requirements for an effective food safety management system. FSEP provides a mechanism for operators of establishments to demonstrate their ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure that food is safe for the consumer. In addition, it enhances the establishment's ability to achieve and maintain compliance with the relevant regulatory requirements.

FSEP is based on the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. HACCP is an internationally recognized, science-based food safety system, designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate potential biological, chemical and physical food safety hazards.

A HACCP system is the responsibility of the establishment (see section 2). The food manufacturer has the most control over the product and thus can have the greatest impact on the safety of the food produced.

FSEP specifies the requirements for an effective HACCP system that combines the following key elements to ensure the production of safe food:

  • Prerequisite programs (see section 3.1)
  • HACCP plans (may include process controls, linked to a critical control point, if applicable) (see section 3.2)
  • Validation documentation (see section 3.3)
  • Maintenance and reassessment procedures (see section 3.4)

FSEP outlines the process for HACCP recognition by the CFIA (see section 4). The recognition process applies to the following federally registered commodity groups: dairy, processed fruits and vegetables, shell eggs, processed eggs, honey, maple, and hatcheries. For establishments registered under the Meat Inspection Regulations in which a HACCP system in accordance with the FSEP Manual requirements is mandatory, please refer to the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures - Chapter 2 (Guidelines for the Applicant/Operator to the Registration of an Establishment and Licensing of an Operator).

FSEP details the changes to a recognized HACCP system that must be communicated to the CFIA (see section 5).

And finally, FSEP provides the necessary information for industry about the CFIA verification of FSEP voluntarily recognized establishments (see section 6). For establishments registered under the Meat Inspection Regulations, please refer to the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures - Chapter 18 (Compliance Verification System).

FSEP is consistent with the CFIA's Quality Management Program (QMP) for fish and seafood products and with HACCP initiatives being developed by provincial governments.

1.2 Types of food safety hazards controlled by a HACCP system

For the purposes of HACCP, hazards refer to agents in or conditions of food that can cause illness, injury or death of a person. These hazards fall into three categories: biological, chemical and physical.

Biological Hazards (B)
Biological hazards are those caused by micro-organisms (bacteria, virus, parasites and moulds) and are often associated with the failure of a process step. (e.g., Pathogen survival due to improper time/temperature applications during pasteurization)

Chemical Hazards (C)
Chemical hazards include those caused by substances/molecules that:

  • Are naturally derived from plants or animals (e.g., poisonous mushrooms);
  • Are intentionally added to the food during growth or during food processing. These substances are considered safe at established levels but are dangerous above these levels (e.g., sodium nitrite, pesticides);
  • Contaminate the food accidentally (e.g., cleaning chemicals);
  • Cause some individuals to experience an immune system response (food allergens).

Physical hazards (P)
Physical hazards include substances not normally found in food that can cause physical injury to the person consuming the food (e.g., wood slivers, glass fragments, metal shavings, bone pieces).

1.3 Benefits of HACCP

Although the adoption of HACCP systems worldwide is due primarily to the added food safety protection provided to consumers, there are other benefits to the food industry that can be realized by implementing a successful HACCP system.

  1. Formally incorporates food safety principles as integral steps of production processes
    HACCP recognition status cannot be completed without a firm commitment by senior management to formally support food safety control measures throughout the production process. The implementation and maintenance of those control measures play a critical role in raising awareness of front line production management and staff of the presence and importance of specific food safety procedures within their process.
  2. Increased employees' ownership of the production of safe food
    As a sign of this commitment, it is the responsibility of senior management to foster the idea within the facility that food safety is the responsibility of everyone. Through the process of developing and implementing a HACCP system, employees become more aware of food safety and their role in contributing to food safety. This increased knowledge leads to ownership of and pride in the production of a safe food product.
  3. Increased buyer and consumer confidence
    Establishments that have implemented a HACCP system provide buyers and consumers with a greater degree of confidence that the facility is producing a safe food product. Establishments can demonstrate by showing documents and records that food safety is under control.
  4. Maintaining or increasing market access
    Market forces continue to drive HACCP implementation throughout the food industry. In many cases, buyer demands and foreign governments require HACCP implementation to maintain market share and/or gain access to previously inaccessible markets. As HACCP systems are accepted worldwide, FSEP helps the Canadian industry to maintain and expand its international markets.
  5. Reduced waste
    The preventative nature of HACCP allows a company to control costs by minimizing the amount of product requiring rejection or recall, and by focusing resources on areas that have been identified as critical in the manufacture of a safe food product. With the regular monitoring inherent in a HACCP system, establishments become aware of problems earlier and the costs of waste are reduced.
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