2015 Food Safety Monitoring Program Results Summary
Table of Contents
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 improve food safety through 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 FSM Program, approximately 1,285 samples were collected between May 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016. 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:
Samples of fresh Ontario grown fruits and vegetables were collected from points of sale across the province. In total, 919 samples were collected by appointed inspectors from roadside stands, retail outlets, farm gate and farmers' markets for either microbial or chemical analysis.
Samples were collected according to a risk-based sampling plan. For more information, refer to Food Safety Monitoring Program for Foods of Plant Origin or www.ontario.ca/producesafety.
A total of 749 samples from 694 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.
Six samples tested positive for generic E. coli. Samples included lettuce, spinach, dill, cilantro, parsley and carrot. 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 2015.
Two hundred and fifty 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 250 samples tested, four samples contained residue levels above Health Canada's allowable limits. Of these four samples, two were bell peppers, and two were kale.
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 2015.
A total of 175 samples of sprouted seeds were collected from 19 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 three sprout samples.
In total, 110 samples of minimally processed fruits or vegetables were collected from 35 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. One sample of shredded cabbage tested positive for generic 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 2015.
Fifty samples of pasteurized and unpasteurized apple cider were collected from cider producers in Ontario. All samples were tested for patulin and microbial contamination.
Of the 50 samples collected, two samples contained patulin levels greater than Health Canada's allowable level.
Of the 50 apple cider samples tested, all samples tested negative for verotoxigenic E. coli, Salmonella spp., and Cryptosporidium.
When contaminant levels above Health Canada's acceptable limits are detected, the producer is immediately notified. Arrangements are made for a follow-up visit with a Risk Management Specialist to help identify causes and suggest corrective action. Other agencies may be notified to aid in follow-up action (e.g., Canadian Food Inspection Agency).
This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to Health Canada (www.hc-sc.gc.ca) for 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 or the following Infosheets:
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300