2012 Food Safety Monitoring Program - Results Summary


The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) conduct a Food Safety Monitoring (FSM) Program each year. The FSM Program is a tool to assist in the detection of non-compliance with standards regarding microbial organisms, agricultural chemicals, and heavy metals on or in Ontario-produced foods of plant origin.

As part of OMAFRA's 2012 Food Safety Monitoring Program, approximately 1,200 samples were collected between May 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013. Sample types included Ontario produced fruits, vegetables, sprouts, minimally processed fruits and vegetables and apple cider.

Samples were analyzed at the University of Guelph Laboratory Services for one or more of the following:

  • microbial pathogens
  • chemical residues
  • toxins

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Samples of fresh Ontario grown fruits and vegetables were collected from points of sale across the province. In total, 867 samples were collected for either chemical or microbial analysis from roadside stands, farm gate and farmers markets.

Samples were collected according to a risk-based sampling plan. For more information, refer to the infosheet "Food Safety Monitoring Program for Foods of Plant Origin" or www.ontario.ca/producesafety.

Microbial Analysis

In total, 657 samples, from 491 Ontario growers, were collected for microbial analysis. All samples were tested for the presence of Salmonella spp., Campylobacter, coliforms, generic E. coli and verotoxigenic E. coli.

Three samples (0.5 percent) tested positive for Salmonella spp. Two were samples of leaf lettuce and one was a sample of strawberries. Two samples (0.3 percent) tested positive for generic E. coli above 3,000 colony forming units per gram. One was a sample of lettuce and the other was a sample of spinach. A list of commodities tested for microbial analysis is provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Types of fresh fruits and vegetables tested for microbial analysis in 2012.

Commodity Type # Tested
Broccoli
41
Green Onion
61
Carrot
99
Strawberry
121
Cilantro
8
Lettuce
120
Parsley
21
Spinach

41

Tomato
139
Other
6

Chemical Analysis

In total, 210 samples, from 183 Ontario growers were collected for chemical analysis. Samples were tested for the presence of more than 300 chemical pesticide residues. Chemical levels detected were compared to the allowable limits set by Health Canada under the Pest Control Products Act. Of the 210 samples tested, four samples (two per cent) contained residue levels above Health Canada's allowable limits. Three of these were samples of lettuce, and one was a sample of wax beans.

A list of commodities tested for chemical analysis is provided in Table 2.

Table 2: Types of fresh fruits and vegetables tested for chemical analysis in 2012.

Commodity Type Total Number Tested
Asian Vegetable
8
Waxed Bean
30
Apple
27
Lettuce
51
Tomato
42
Peas
1
Spinach
2
Green Onion
2

Sprouted Seeds

In total, 155 samples of sprouted seeds were collected from 16 sprouting facilities in Ontario. All samples were tested for the presence of coliforms, generic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Shigella and verotoxigenic E. coli.

Listeria monocytogenes was detected on eight (five per cent) of sprout samples collected.

Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables

A total of 175 samples of minimally processed fruits and/or vegetables were collected from 45 processing facilities in Ontario. Sample types included ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables which were peeled, chopped or sliced.

Samples were tested for the presence of coliforms, generic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella, Salmonella spp. and verotoxigenic E. coli.

Of the 175 samples collected, one sample (0.5 per cent) tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No other pathogens were detected.

A list of commodity types collected under the minimally processed category is provided in Table 3.

Table 3: Types of minimally processed fruits and vegetables tested for microbial analysis in 2012.

Commodity Type Total Number Tested
Apple
2
Broccoli
7
Cabbage
7
Carrot
16
Cauliflower
5
Celery
6
Coleslaw
3
Lettuce
31
Melon
7
Mixed Veg
3
Mushroom
55
Onion
16
Other
6
Pepper
7
Spinach
4
Total
175

Apple Cider

In total, 25 samples of pasteurized and unpasteurized apple cider were collected from 25 cider producers in Ontario. All samples were tested for patulin and microbial contamination.

Patulin

Patulin levels were compared to the maximum level of 50 parts per billion set by Health Canada. Of the 25 samples collected, one sample (four per cent) contained patulin levels greater than the guideline.

Microbial Analysis

Of the 25 apple cider samples tested, no samples tested positive for verotoxigenic E. coli, Salmonella spp., Shigella or Cryptosporidium.

Adverse Results

When adverse results were detected, the grower/producer was notified immediately. OMAFRA staff provided assistance in determining the source of contamination. The grower/producer will be sampled in subsequent seasons until they have had two consecutive compliant results.

Results which posed a potential food safety risk were reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for potential follow-up action. The CFIA is responsible for conducting risk assessments of the products, and determining if a recall is required. One public recall was issued as a result of sampling under the 2012 FSM Program.

Results from this program are not statistically valid and cannot be used to make generalizations about the state of the industry.

Additional Information

This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to Health Canada (www.hc-sc.gc.ca) for regulatory requirements and Maximum Residue Limits.

For more information on the Food Safety Monitoring Program, refer to the website www.ontario.ca/producesafety or the following Infosheets:


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: Unknown
Last Reviewed: 06 June 2014