2017 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 assist in the detection of potential food safety concerns on or in Ontario-produced foods of plant origin.

As part of the Ministry's FSM Program, 1,655 samples were collected and analyzed between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018. Products tested include Ontario produced fruits, vegetables, sprouted seeds, minimally processed fruits and vegetables, apple cider, nuts and home canned products.

Samples were analyzed at the University of Guelph Agriculture & Food Laboratory for one or more of the following:

  • microbial pathogens
  • chemical residues

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

A total of 980 samples of fresh Ontario grown fruits and vegetables were collected from points of sale across the province. 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 ontario.ca/producesafety.

Microbial Analysis

There were 780 samples from 626 Ontario growers collected for microbial analysis. All samples were tested for the presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, coliforms, generic E. coli and verotoxigenic E. coli.

Three samples contained generic E. coli levels greater than Health Canada's tolerable level; two lettuce and one spinach sample. One of the leaf lettuce samples was also positive for verotoxigenic E.coli. 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 2017.

Commodity Type Number Tested
Apples
30
Broccoli
50
Carrots
53
Field cucumber
73
Kale/Spinach
49
Lettuce
107
Micro Greens
19
Parsley
32
Bean
1
Sweet pepper
55
Raspberries
52
Strawberries
100
Tomatoes
108
Fresh Herbs
23
Celery
8
Green Onions
20
Total
758

Chemical Analysis

Two hundred samples from 187 Ontario growers were collected for chemical analysis. Samples were tested for the presence of more than 500 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, eight samples contained residue levels above Health Canada's allowable limits; four kale, one wax bean, one bell pepper, one bok choy and one cilantro.

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 2017.

Commodity Type Number Tested
Apples
13
Basil/Cilantro
6
Beans
20
Bok Choy
5
Cucumber
20
Kale
33
Onions
5
Raspberries
24
Spinach
11
Sweet Pepper
11
Tomatoes
18
Celery
7
Strawberries
27
Total
200

Sprouted Seeds

Two hundred and twenty 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

Eighty samples of minimally processed fruits or vegetables were collected from 33 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 2017.

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 as well as verotoxigenic E. coli, Salmonella spp. and Cryptosporidium.

Of the 50 samples collected, one sample contained patulin at a level greater than Health Canada's allowable level. One sample was positive for Cryptosporidium.

Processed Products

There were 125 samples of Ontario preserved products collected for analysis of pH, mesophiles, and water activity. Sample types included pickled vegetables, fruit butters and salsas.

One sample of mushroom soup 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 for this product.

Adverse Results

When contaminant levels are detected above acceptable limits, the producer is notified immediately. 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 (e.g., Canadian Food Inspection Agency).

Additional Information

This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to Health Canada 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 ontario.ca/producesafety or the following Infosheets:


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Linda Hill, Data & Issues Management Coordinator
Creation Date: May 2017
Last Reviewed: May 2017