2015 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 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:

  • 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 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.

Microbial Analysis

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.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Broccoli
45
Carrots
79
Cauliflower
31
Cucumber
68
Kale/Spinach
50
Lettuce
119
Micro Greens
20
Parsley
32
Raspberries
45
Strawberries
121
Tomatoes
116
Other (pepper,arugula)
21
Other
2
Total
749

Chemical Analysis

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.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
25
Broccoli
40
Cucumber
44
Kale
24
Lettuce
53
Bell Pepper
45
Spinach
18
Bok Choy
1
Total
250

Sprouted Seeds

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.

Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables

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.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
1
Broccoli
7
Cabbage
5
Canteloupe
1
Carrots
19
Cauliflower
2
Celery
6
Honeydew
1
Kale
5
Lettuce
9
Mixed Fruits
3
Mixed vegetables
5
Mushrooms
33
Onions
4
Pepper
7
Tomatoes
2
Total
110

Apple Cider

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

Patulin

Of the 50 samples collected, two samples contained patulin levels greater than Health Canada's allowable level.

Microbial Analysis

Of the 50 apple cider samples tested, all samples tested negative for verotoxigenic E. coli, Salmonella spp., and Cryptosporidium.

Adverse Results

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).

Additional Information

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
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 20 December 2016
Last Reviewed: 20 December 2016