Monday, May 5, 2014

If it's Contaminated, Is It Food?

Why no answers from CFIA or Health Canada about contaminated chicken being sold as food, contrary to Canada's Food & Drug Act?

I asked the following 4 questions of Health Canada on 2013-09-03 13:38 PM (see below).

The Web support team of Health Canada quickly acknowledged receipt of my questions, then forwarded the questions to Health Canada's Food‐Aliment <Food‐Aliment@hc‐>  Department on 2013‐09‐03 2:04 PM saying:
For appropriate action, please and thank you!
Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada

So far, I have received nothing back from them.  I have now requested the answer again, and an answer on why the delay, with copies to the Minister of Agriculture & Agri-Foods, and the Minister of Health (who share responsibilities for CFIA).

Here are my questions, still without answers:

Unanswered Questions from CFIA and Health Canada

I understand that Canada's Food and Drugs Act, Article 4 states:
No person shall sell an article of food that:
(a) has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance;
(b) is unfit for human consumption;
(c) consists in whole or in part any filthy, putrid, disgusting rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;
(d) is adulterated; or
(e) was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under
unsanitary conditions.

I also understand from http://www.hc‐‐an/legislation/acts‐lois/act‐loi_reg‐eng.php
"All health and safety standards under the Food and Drug Regulations are enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Agency is also responsible for the administration of non‐health and safety regulations concerning food packaging, labelling and advertising."
I also understand from
J Food Prot. 2012 Jan;75(1):34‐40. doi: 10.4315/0362‐028X.JFP‐11‐206.
Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, verotoxigenic Escherichia coli, and Escherichia coli prevalence, enumeration, and subtypes on retail chicken breasts with and without skin; Cook A, Odumeru J, Lee S, Pollari F. Source: Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada, 255 Woodlawn Road West, Unit 120, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1H 8J1.   angela.cook@phac‐
and other similar studies that between 30% to 80% of all raw chicken meat sold in Canada is contaminated with E. Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and/or other human pathogen.

I therefore have the following questions:

1. Are E. Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and/or other human pathogen considered by CFIA to meet the definitions of one or more prohibited substances or processes as defined by Article 4 of Canada's Food & Drug Act? If yes, which ones? If no, please fully describe and justify CFIA's position.

2. Is there strict liability for Article 4? In other words, if someone takes "reasonable precautions" to avoid all of these prohibited conditions or processes, is that good enough to avoid prosecution and conviction, even if somebody dies from resulting food poisoning? Is mens rea required to be proved in CFIA's opinion?  If someone knew, or ought to have known that an article of food for sale (or sold) was contaminated, is that sufficient to prosecute and obtain conviction in CFIA's opinion?

3. Is CFIA directly (or indirectly through contractors or delegated authority/responsibility to others) doing any surveillance of raw chicken at chicken producers (ie. farms), slaughter plants, further processing plants, wholesale distribution channels, or at retail stores for contamination of raw chicken with E. Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and/or other human pathogen? If yes, please describe CFIA's sampling inspection plan (including but not limited to sampling frequency, sample size, sampling stratification, sample randomization, sample selection protocols, sample testing), and % of samples found to be contaminated (ie. non‐compliant to Article 4) for the past 5 years. What traceability system for samples does CFIA use so as to determine the source, brand, lot code, meat plant's CFIA or provincial registration number, distribution chain, and sampling point that is associated with samples subsequently found to be contaminated? When contaminated raw chicken has been identified, what subsequent action(s) has CFIA taken to quarantine, condemn, and/or lay charges under Article 4 or other Acts & Regulations (please provide % frequency of each outcome taken by CFIA)? If CFIA has not laid charges in all cases of contaminated raw chicken, please describe why not?

4. I understand that CFIA has recently developed meat plant procedures that will allow unlimited line speeds for the slaughtering of chicken. See MPIP (Modernized Poultry Inspection Program) Inspection ‐ No cap on the line speed. It is unlimited speed as long as process is under control. Some establishments run at >200/minute‐6‐2e.shtml   Does CFIA consider that the risk of contamination to significantly increase with rising line speeds on some proportional, linear, or exponential function relationship? If a CFIA Inspector suspects or determines that chicken carcass contamination has occurred at some point on the production line in a chicken slaughter plant, what is CFIA's
policy (ie. automatically declared contaminated until proven otherwise, assumed to be OK, or some other designation) concerning all the chicken on the slaughter line that is: a) between the last known good point on the line and the moment that the Inspector first suspects or knows a carcass contamination occurs; b) between the first carcass that the Inspector suspects or knows is contaminated and the first carcass subsequently processed that is again known to have been restored to acceptable quality, all while the line is operating in a stable and statistically predictable manner for an adequate period of time;

Thanking you in advance for your prompt and comprehensive answers to these three questions, I remain,

Yours truly,

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

No comments:

Post a Comment

Off-topic commercial spam that's posted so as to help sell your wares will be deleted.

On-topic comments, where you behave yourself and play nicely, will remain posted; whether they are pro or con. Everybody needs to fully understand all points of view so that we can find a solution that encompasses everybody's concerns. Give it your best shot.

If you decide to post, your posting becomes part of the public record, and SFPFC has full rights to use it (or not) in any reasonable manner or medium that suits our purposes.

Before posting, please proofread, and correct as necessary. If you subsequently discover a need to fix your previous posting, make an additional posting that refers to the original posting, then set the record straight.