The report, summarizing sampling activities from 2020-2021, showcased the effectiveness of the National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP), an annual regulatory surveillance initiative by CFIA.
The NCRMP, a cornerstone of Canadian food safety initiatives, encompasses seven commodity groups including meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, honey, maple products, and processed fruits and vegetables.
Over the evaluation period, more than 95,000 tests were conducted on approximately 12,500 samples, covering residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides, toxic heavy metals, environmental chemicals, and mycotoxins.
Impressively, the overall compliance rate with Canadian chemical residue standards stood at 96.6 percent, a testament to the high quality and safety of the nation’s food supply.
While the results were overwhelmingly positive, the report highlighted areas of concern within specific commodity groups.
Imported fresh fruits and vegetables, domestic eggs, and imported dairy products fell slightly below the program’s 95 percent target compliance rate, with rates of 93.8 percent, 91 percent, and 87.4 percent, respectively.
Domestic eggs displayed residues of drugs used to treat enteric parasites in chickens, while imported produce failed to meet standards due to pesticides used in grower countries that are not registered in Canada.
Similarly, imported dairy samples were noncompliant primarily due to veterinary drugs found in cheeses.
In 2014 an initiative known as the Food Safety Oversight (FSO) Program was introduced to complement the NCRMP and to increase CFIA’s oversight in the non-meat food sectors.
In 2016 the CFIA increased sampling and testing of certain fresh fruit and vegetables that were not typically monitored within the program. The increased level of sampling and testing has continued into 2020.
Some of these additional FSO program samples were collected at federally registered establishments or importers by inspectors in the same manner as the NCRMP samples.
The majority of the FSO samples, however, were collected at retail locations by third party samplers under contract to the CFIA.
Sampling of foods at both federally registered establishments and retail locations offers additional information on levels of residues and contaminants present in foods on the Canadian market.
Crucially, the NCRMP aligns with Codex Alimentarius principles and guidelines, ensuring international equivalence with Canada’s key trading partners such as the United States and the European Union.
The program provides data to support the Canadian food production system and the integrity of Canada’s chemical residue control system.
This harmonization underscores Canada’s commitment to global food safety standards and facilitates smooth international trade relationships.