2013 Food Safety Monitoring Program Results Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  2. Sprouted Seeds
  3. Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables
  4. Apple Cider
  5. Adverse Results
  6. Additional Information

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) conducts 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 the Ministry's Food Safety Monitoring Program, approximately 1,250 samples were collected between May 1, 2013 and April 30, 2014. 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, 900 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 www.ontario.ca/producesafety.

Microbial Analysis

In total, 700 samples, from 534 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.

Four samples tested positive for generic E. coli. Samples included two broccoli, one lettuce, and one parsley. A list of commodities tested for microbial analysis is provided in Table 1.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Basil
22
Broccoli
42
Carrots
93
Lettuce
98
Onions
60
Parsley
23
Raspberries
41
Spinach
40
Strawberries
125
Tomatoes
150
Other
6
Total
700

Chemical Analysis

Two hundred 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 200 samples tested, three samples contained residue levels above Health Canada's allowable limits. Two were samples of cabbage, and one was a sample of lettuce.

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 2013.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
25
Cabbage
19
Carrots
35
Corn
36
Lettuce
40
Tomatoes
42
Other (beans, peach, raspberries)
3
Total
200

Sprouted Seeds

A total of 160 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 15 sprout samples.

Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables

One hundred and forty-four samples of minimally processed fruits and/or vegetables were collected from 39 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 144 samples collected, one sample tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes and one sample tested positive for E.coli.

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 2013.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
3
Broccoli
5
Cabbage
5
Canteloupe
2
Carrots
24
Celery
10
Endive
1
Honeydew
2
Lettuce
25
Mixed Fruit
1
Mixed Vegetables
10
Mushrooms
40
Onions
7
Pepper
5
Tomatoes
4
Total
144

Apple Cider

Fifty samples of pasteurized and unpasteurized apple cider were collected from 50 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 50 samples collected, two samples contained patulin levels greater than the guideline.

Microbial Analysis

Of the 50 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. Ministry staff provided assistance in determining the source of contamination.

Results which posed a potential food safety risk were reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for possible follow-up action. The CFIA is responsible for conducting risk assessments of the products, and determining if a recall is required.

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.

Results from this program are not statistically valid and cannot be used to make generalizations about the overall level of produce safety in Ontario.

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


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 20 July 2015
Last Reviewed: 20 July 2015