CFIA: Changes to Grade Verification of Onions for Export to the US

The United States (U.S.) onion import regulations identifies the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as Canada’s governmental inspection service for certifying the grade, size, quality and maturity of onions to be exported from Canada to the U.S. in lieu of inspections performed by the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS). In order to maintain this preferred arrangement with the USDA-AMS, the CFIA is subject to regular audits of our grade verification systems and practices.

The most recent audit (July 2021-March 2022) indicated that the USDA-AMS requires onions to be inspected to U.S. grade standards including lot defect allowances and individual sample tolerances.

As of January 1, 2023, any grade verification performed by the CFIA for exports of onions will be done using the defect tolerances and allowances of the U.S. grade standards. Exported lots will need to meet these requirements to be eligible for export to the U.S.

If you export onions, the CFIA requires you to update your Preventive Control Plan (PCP) to reflect this change and confirm you have control measures in place that allow you to meet these additional foreign country requirements.

Note: There is no change in potato inspections since both Canada #1 and Canada #2 grades are deemed to comply with the requirements of U.S.#1 and U.S.#2 grades respectively. However, the CFIA continues to use the U.S. sizes and maturity when doing potato grade verifications for exports to the U.S.

Please refer to the following reference material as needed and contact your local CFIA office if you have any questions: