Attention all manufacturers, packagers, distributors, and sellers of Ready-to-Eat (RTE) foods in Canada, as of October 1, 2023, Health Canada’s updated policy on Listeria monocytogenes in RTE foods is now in effect. As we previously reported in our March 2023 article, this updated policy was intended to help minimize or prevent the growth and/or introduction of L. monocytogenes in RTE foods. If you need a refresher or missed our initial coverage, you can read the original article here.
Listeria monocytogenes remains a significant concern in the food industry, causing an estimated 134 hospitalizations annually in Canada. Historically, outbreaks have been linked to various food categories, including meat, poultry, produce, and dairy products. Vulnerable populations are particularly at risk, making compliance with the new guidelines essential.
Let’s revisit the key points of this updated policy
The policy aims to minimize or prevent the introduction and growth of Listeria in Ready-to-Eat (RTE) foods. This includes adhering to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and/or Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), implementing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans or Preventive Control Plans, conducting regular environmental sampling, maintaining strict control over processing steps, and preventing contamination in post-process areas.
The updated policy focuses on readability and clarity, ensuring that all stakeholders can easily understand and implement the guidelines. It embraces an outcomes-based regulatory framework tailored to domestic manufacturers, importers, and exporters of RTE foods. The policy now also clearly outlines specific food businesses, activities, and food categories exempt from its requirements. Other notable changes include a revised definition of “RTE food” and the introduction of a decision tree to simplify categorization. There is also more detailed guidance regarding foods produced for vulnerable populations.
To ensure compliance with these regulations, it’s essential to have a robust food safety program in place that aligns with GAP, GMP, and HACCP standards. If you need assistance in developing such a program, we are here to help. Additionally, consider undergoing an audit against GAP, GMP, and HACCP requirements by an independent auditor. This step will help ensure that your operations meet the highest standards of food safety and quality.
For further information on this updated policy or any other food safety and quality matters, please reach out to dicentra. We’re here to assist you in navigating these changes and maintaining compliance with the new Listeria regulations that are already in effect. Your commitment to food safety is paramount, and together, we can ensure that our RTE foods are safe for all consumers.
If you missed our original article and would like to read it for a more in-depth understanding of the Listeria policy updates, you can find it here.