2014 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 1,285 samples were collected between May 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. Sample types include 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, 919 samples were collected for either chemical or microbial analysis from roadside stands, retail outlets, farm gate and farmers markets.

Samples were collected according to a risk-based sampling plan. For more information, refer to the website www.ontario.ca/producesafety.

Microbial Analysis

A total of 711 samples from 494 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.

Seven samples tested positive for generic E. coli. Samples included spinach, lettuce, raspberries, broccoli, and basil. 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 2014.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Basil
14
Broccoli
42
Carrots
82
Cilantro
8
Lettuce
117
Micro Greens
18
Onions
62
Parsley
30
Raspberries
41
Spinach
41
Strawberries
125
Tomatoes
126
Other
5
Total
711

Chemical Analysis

Two hundred samples from 168 Ontario growers were collected for chemical analysis. Samples were tested for the presence of more than 500 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, four samples contained residue levels above Health Canada's allowable limits. Two samples were lettuce, one was arugula and the other, a bell pepper.

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 2014.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
18
Broccoli
35
Corn
36
Lettuce
46
Bell Pepper
35
Spinach
25
Other (beans, arugula, cabbage)
5
Total
200

Sprouted Seeds

A total of 165 samples of sprouted seeds were collected from 17 sprouting facilities in Ontario. All samples were tested for the presence of coliforms, generic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., and verotoxigenic E. coli.

Listeria monocytogenes was detected on two sprout samples collected, and Salmonella spp. was detected on five samples.

Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables

In total, 151 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, Salmonella spp. And verotoxigenic E. coli. All samples collected were negative.

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 2014.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
5
Broccoli
8
Cabbage
6
Canteloupe
5
Carrots
21
Cauliflower
6
Celery
12
Honeydew
5
Lettuce
19
Mixed Greens
1
Mixed vegetables
5
Mushrooms
40
Onions
10
Pepper
6
Tomatoes
2
Total
151

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. One recall resulted from this testing.

Microbial Analysis

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