CFIA issues new requirements aimed at reducing salmonella in frozen food products

In the wake of several food recalls due to salmonella, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced new requirements for frozen raw breaded chicken products last month.

Several food products have been recalled recently

Chicken nuggets are among the products subject to new requirements from the CFIA. (CBC)

In the wake of several food recalls due to salmonella, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced new requirements for frozen, raw breaded-chicken products last month.

Salmonella levels must be reduced to below detectable amounts with measures implemented at the manufacturing and processing stage, according to the CFIA's website.

The requirements apply to products like chicken nuggets, cutlettes, chicken burgers and popcorn chicken, but not chicken breasts, filets or tenders, the CFIA says.

Manufacturers have until April 1, 2019 to adopt one of four control measures to reduce salmonella levels.

4 options for manufacturers

The first option is to include a cook process proven to reduce salmonella germs by 10 million times, or a 7-log reduction. 

Manufacturers can also implement a salmonella testing program or a hold-and-test program that requires the results to come back negative before the product is approved.

'The root cause of the problem is not being addressed,' says food safety expert Rick Holley. (CBC)

The fourth option is a salmonella sampling program along with processes proven to reduce germs by 100 times.

The new requirements are a good step, but won't entirely fix the problem, said Rick Holley, a food safety expert.

"I don't think you can regulate it out. It's a cultural change that has to take place."

'A time bomb waiting to explode'

Holley studied salmonella at the University of Manitoba in the 1990s, and says 14 to 15 per cent of the chicken products tested then were positive for salmonella.

"To see that little has changed today … with these products showing up positive for salmonella is very frustrating," he said.

Holley says the regulations will address issues associated with processing facilities, but he believes salmonella can be eradicated from animal food products entirely.

"We just don't have the kind of control we need to have to keep [salmonella] away from the food system ... Initiatives associated with food-borne illness and food safety have been, I think, put on the back burner by the government," he said.

"The issues associated with food safety, I think, are a time bomb waiting to explode."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin


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