Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP)

The Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) is a federal food safety program jointly administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The goal of the program is to minimize the health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated bivalve molluscan shellfish such as mussels, oysters and clams.

Under the CSSP, the Government of Canada implements controls to verify that only shellfish that meet food safety and quality standards reach domestic and international markets.

Roles and responsibilities

Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

  • maintains a biotoxin surveillance program in shellfish harvest areas
  • recommends to Fisheries and Oceans Canada the closure and reopening of shellfish harvest areas based on Canadian marine biotoxin or microbiological standards
  • licenses persons or food businesses who are:
    • manufacturing, processing, treating, preserving, grading, packaging and labelling shellfish for the purpose of interprovincial trade or export
    • importing shellfish
  • verifies the compliance of licence holders to the regulatory requirements for shellfish sanitation and takes enforcement action such as suspending or cancelling licences in cases of continued unacceptable operating and sanitation conditions

Environment and Climate Change Canada:

  • identifies safe shellfish harvest areas in Canada, which includes ongoing water quality monitoring of fecal contamination in the marine environment, in accordance with the CSSP manual criteria
  • conducts comprehensive sanitary and bacteriological water quality surveys in shellfish harvest areas in Canada
  • identifies and/or assesses key sources of sanitary point and non-point pollution that would impact shellfish harvest areas
  • recommends classification of shellfish harvest areas based on the results and analyses of these activities
  • recommends to Fisheries and Oceans Canada the closure and reopening of shellfish harvest areas based on Canadian marine water quality standards

Fisheries and Oceans Canada:

  • opens and closes shellfish harvest areas, and monitors harvest activities within these areas
  • notifies the public of shellfish harvest area closures

Health Canada:

  • establishes policies, regulations and standards related to the safety and nutritional quality of food
  • conducts health risk assessments in order to inform and protect Canadians from the health risks associated with food

Shellfish harvest area openings and closures

Fisheries and Oceans Canada communicates shellfish harvest area closures through:

Reference material - consumers

Reference material - industry

Related sites

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