2016 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. Processed Products
  6. Adverse Results
  7. 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 used 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, 1,355 samples were collected and analyzed between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017. Sample types include Ontario produced fruits, vegetables, sprouts, minimally processed fruits and vegetables, apple cider and processed products.

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, 950 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 750 samples from 627 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 lettuce, broccoli, carrots and parsley. One sample of lettuce tested positive for Salmonella. 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 2016.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Broccoli
52
Carrots
67
Field cucumber
76
Kale/Spinach
54
Lettuce
115
Micro Greens
20
Parsley
26
Sweet pepper
49
Raspberries
47
Strawberries
106
Tomatoes
113
Fresh Herbs
25
Total
750

Chemical Analysis

A total of 200 samples from 186 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, five samples contained residue levels above Health Canada's allowable limits. Of these five samples, two were kale, two were raspberries, and one was basil.

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 2016.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Apples
17
Basil
5
Beans
35
Broccoli
1
Cucumber
35
Kale
28
Raspberries
27
Spinach
15
Sweet Pepper
1
Tomatoes
36
Total
250

Sprouted Seeds

A total of 180 samples of sprouted seeds were collected from 20 sprouting facilities in Ontario. All samples were tested for the presence of coliforms, generic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., and verotoxigenic E. coli.

No adverse results were detected.

Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables

In total, 80 samples of minimally processed fruits or vegetables were collected from 27 processing facilities in Ontario. Sample types included ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables which were peeled, chopped or sliced.

All samples tested negative for the presence of coliforms, generic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp. and verotoxigenic 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 2016.

Commodity Type
Number Tested
Broccoli
4
Cabbage
9
Canteloupe
1
Carrots
13
Celery
5
Cucumber
1
Grapes
2
Honeydew
1
Kale
3
Lettuce
5
Mixed vegetables
2
Mushrooms
22
Onions
5
Bell Pepper
7
Total
80

Apple Cider

Fifty samples of pasteurized, UV treated and unpasteurized sweet apple cider were collected from across Ontario. All samples were tested for patulin and microbial contamination.

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

All 50 apple cider samples were tested for verotoxigenic E. coli, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium. No adverse results were detected.

Processed Products

There were 95 samples of Ontario processed preserved products collected for analysis of pH, mesophiles, and water activity. Sample types included pickled vegetables, apple butters and salsas.

One sample of black bean and yam chili had a pH and water activity that could support the growth of Clostridium botulism. A Class 1 recall was initiated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Adverse Results

When contaminant levels are detected above acceptable limits, the producer is immediately notified. Arrangements are made for a follow-up visit with OMAFRA staff 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: May 2017
Last Reviewed: May 2017