CFIA prioritizing critical food safety work during COVID-19 pandemic

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s prioritizing critical services to preserve the integrity of Canada’s food safety system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with that, the agency says it has temporarily suspended “low-risk activities that do not immediately impact the production of safe food for Canadians.”

The list of critical activities includes the following:

  • Food safety investigations and recalls
  • Animal disease investigations
  • Inspection services
  • Export certification
  • Import inspection services
  • Emergency management
  • Laboratory diagnostics in support of the above,

Meanwhile, the following services are temporarily suspended:

  • Food inspections and investigations not related to food safety
  • Low risk surveillance or sampling activities (food, plant and animal)
  • Inspections of preventive control plans and plant and animal inspections in areas of low risk
  • Low risk labelling and domestic facility inspections
  • Low risk feed, seed and fertilizer permissions.

The agency has also issued a notice regarding requests from industry to have inspectors sign CVOID-19 screening forms before entering facilities. The agency notes CFIA officials operate under legislation that allows them to enter “any place in which they have reasonable grounds to believe that an activity regulated by CFIA legislation is conducted, for the purpose of verifying compliance and/or preventing non-compliance.” Inspectors are also not obligated to share personal information regarding travel or health conditions with the businesses they inspect. That being said, as of this week, the CFIA has asked its employees to follow COVID-19 protocols put in place by the establishments where they work. This could include taking of temperature upon arrival.

As for the risk of COVID-19 in animals, the CFIA reiterates there have been no reports of infection in livestock species anywhere. The agency is conducting research in pigs, chickens, and turkeys to “determine their susceptibility to COVID-19 and validate test methods and the potential for transmission between animals.”

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