The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is implementing temporary import conditions for romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley in California for the 2021 growing season.
The conditions are for romaine lettuce from Santa Cruz Santa Clara San Benito Monterey.
Between Sept. 30 and Dec. 31, 2021, importers of romaine lettuce and products containing romaine lettuce from the United States will be required to provide proof that the product does not originate from counties in California’s Salinas Valley, or an attestation form and certificate of analysis for each shipment to demonstrate that the romaine lettuce does not contain detectable levels of E. coli O157:H7.
Similar temporary import conditions were in place during the same time period in
The temporary requirements are an additional level of control over the food safety measures in place under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
As of Jan. 15, 2021, SFCR requirements came into force for most businesses in the fresh fruits or vegetables sector that import, export or engage in interprovincial trade.
Under the SFCR, fresh fruits or vegetables businesses, including those who import romaine lettuce, are now required to obtain a Safe Food for Canadians licence and maintain:
- preventive controls that address food safety hazards;
- preventive control plans that document risks to food and how they are addressed; and
- traceability documentation that tracks the movement of food one step forward and one step back in the supply chain.
From 2016 to 2019, romaine lettuce from California was linked to outbreaks of E. coli illnesses in the United States and Canada. Canadian and U.S. authorities found that the Salinas Valley region was a frequent source of E.coli outbreaks during food safety investigations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has identified and responded to potential outbreaks.
Canada maintains specific import requirements to minimize potential hazards associated with romaine lettuce. For example, the importation of leafy greens from California is limited to products supplied by certified members of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA). LGMA members must comply with food safety regulations, which are subject to regular audits from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The CFIA has a regular monitoring program for E. coli O157:H7 in fresh vegetables. Since April 1, 2019, in addition to the regular monitoring program, the CFIA added 1,000 samples per year of imported romaine lettuce and products containing romaine lettuce.
For more information, see the CFIA guidance Import requirements romaine lettuce from the United States ..
- Due to growing conditions, Canada imports lettuce from Salinas Valley primarily during the fall months.
- Approximately 40,000 shipments of romaine lettuce or salad mixes containing romaine lettuce were imported into Canada from January to December 2020.
- Romaine lettuce is associated with elevated food safety risks. In Canada, there have been seven documented outbreaks of illnesses associated with romaine lettuce, and 16 recalls of romaine lettuce or products containing romaine lettuce because of E. coli O157:H7 from 2010 to 2019.
- Under the CFIA’s temporary import requirements, romaine from the Salinas area must be tested in a laboratory accredited by an accreditation body that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA).
- In 2020, the CFIA imposed temporary import conditions for romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31. There were no E.coli outbreaks in lettuce from this region in 2020..
- Import requirements for leafy green vegetables from California and Arizona
- FDA Releases Investigation Report Following Fall 2020 Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Illnesses Linked to Leafy Greens
- FDA Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan
- Import requirements for romaine lettuce from the United States (2021)
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