Response to the recommendations from the National Working Group for Vibrio parahaemolyticus Control in BC Oysters for Raw Consumption

Ottawa, ON – Following an outbreak of illnesses caused by Vibrio in British Columbia oysters in 2015, a working group of regulators and industry members discussed perceived gaps in the current controls for Vibrio. The regulators were at the provincial and federal level, and included the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The working group’s recommendations were published in a report called Recommendations from the National Working Group for Vibrio parahaemolyticus Control in BC Oysters for Raw Consumption.

The recommendations

The report includes 70 recommendations. The scope of actions proposed within the recommendations is wide, and includes improvements for control measures, training, communications, information and data sharing. Of the 70 recommendations, 37 relate to the CFIA and its activities as regulator of federally registered fish and seafood processors. The remaining 33 recommendations relate to the oyster harvesting and processing industry and oversight by other regulatory partners.

The CFIA has reviewed and assessed these 37 recommendations, both in relation to our activities under the current regulations, as well as under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) which come into force in January 2019.

Response to the recommendations

In response to the recommendations, we have implemented a number of concrete, specific improvements. This includes publishing additional guidance for industry regarding Vibrio control measures, and improved internal and external communication processes.

Although not included as a recommendation within the report, we have also taken action to control Vibrio by:

  • extending the interim (more stringent) microbiological guideline for Vibrio in oysters from British Columbia beyond the 2015 outbreak, and
  • expanding the scope of the guideline to apply to all oysters regulated by the CFIA, whether domestic or imported

A complete list of recommendations and CFIA responses/actions is available on request.

Looking ahead

The CFIA’s response to the recommendations acts as a reminder that the role of industry is to provide safe food to Canadians, while the CFIA’s role is to provide oversight of industry’s activities. The CFIA continually improves, to adapt to emerging risks, respond to changing consumer demands and support industry. The SFCR and other activities, such as the Establishment-based Risk Assessment Model and the Canadian Food Safety Information Network, will help us improve our ability to manage risk, collect and share information with partners, and respond to outbreaks.

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