Advisory Services for Foods of Plant Origin Processors

Introduction

The Foods of Plant Origin (FPO) Program within the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA) provides food safety guidance to non-federally registered foods of plant origin food processors in Ontario.

Food safety guidance is delivered by the Risk Identification and Management (RIM) Unit staff. Contact information can be found on the next page.

A number of tools are used by the RIM Unit to help FPO clients identify and manage food safety risks.

Advisory Services

  • Environmental Monitoring - Staff conduct ATP bioluminescence and microbial environmental swabbing at volunteer plants to introduce clients to environmental monitoring as a tool to verify the effectiveness of their cleaning and sanitizing programs. While the number of no-cost swabbing sessions for each facility is limited, after seeing the benefits of such a program, facilities often initiate their own swabbing programs.
  • Food Safety Assessments - To help identify strengths and weaknesses of a plant's operating procedures and facilities, staff perform food safety assessments (gap analysis) during on-site visits to individual facilities.
  • Mitigation Approaches - In response to observations during on-site visits and to e-mail and telephone inquiries, staff suggest approaches to mitigate food safety concerns.
  • Good Manufacturing Practices - To support producers and processors who are pursuing formal food safety programs (e.g. Good Manufacturing Practices or GMPs), staff conduct GMP writing workshops, review GMP programs and offer constructive suggestions. It should be noted that staff do not prepare individual plant programs.
  • Assistance in addressing non-compliance - Product samples tested under the ministry's Food Safety Monitoring Program are sometimes found to be non-compliant with Health Canada guidelines and standards. When this occurs, staff assist the producer/processor in finding and correcting the underlying problem.

Educational Resources

  • Presentations - Staff make presentations on food safety topics at foods of plant origin commodity group and other meetings.
  • Infosheets - One or two-page infosheets contain technical information covering a range of food safety issues for a variety of foods of plant origin commodities.
  • Guidebooks - Detailed commodity-specific guidebooks describe GMPs that should be followed to ensure the production of safe food.
    • Guidebooks for minimally processed fruit and vegetables, maple syrup and apple cider are available in print and on the ministry's website: www.ontario.ca/producesafety.
    • The Sprouted Seeds Good Manufacturing Practices Guidebook is available in print format.
    • A cleaning and sanitation guidebook outlines proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures for all foods of plant origin processing facilities. It is available in print and on the ministry's website: www.ontario.ca/producesafety.
  • Articles - Staff produce food safety-related articles for commodity group newsletters and other publications.
  • Business Information Bundles - Information on production methods, technology, regulatory requirements and business and marketing options for maple syrup and honey producers is provided in Business Information Bundles (BIBs): www.ontario.ca/maple
    www.ontario.ca/honey
  • Annual Seminar - An industry-wide seminar on a topic relevant to all FPO commodity processors is held annually, usually in the Greater Toronto Area. Recent topics have included Cleaning and Sanitation and Controlling Listeria. Smaller, commodity-specific, seminars/workshops are held in various locations across the province throughout the year.

Special Projects

Periodically, Ontario foods of plant origin producers/processors are asked to participate in research studies designed by the ministry. These studies assist producers/processors in identifying food safety risks, as well as in assessing implementation of measures to manage these risks. Recent examples include studies assessing the effectiveness of cleaning and sanitation practices and the microbial quality of wash water at minimally processed produce operations.

We Want to Hear From you!

All non-federally registered Ontario foods of plant origin food processors are invited to take advantage of the services offered by OMAF and MRA's Foods of Plant Origin Program. For more information regarding educational resources or seminars, presentations for your group or individualized advisory services, please contact:

Bengt Schumacher
Risk Management Specialist
Telephone: 705-725-7295
E-mail: bengt.schumacher@ontario.ca

Peter vanWeerden
Risk Management Specialist
Telephone: 905-562-1671
E-mail: peter.vanweerden@ontario.ca

Paul Bailey
Risk Identification and Management Coordinator
Telephone: 519-826-4380
E-mail: paul.bailey1@ontario.ca


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 12 February 2014
Last Reviewed: 12 February 2014