Safety is a paramount concern when working in the food industry. From processing plants to restaurants, food facilities in Canada are subject to stringent safety laws. These laws are enforced through periodic audits of food facilities by health inspectors. If you are considering a career in the food industry, you need to take these audits seriously as violations could result in fines or the facility being forced to shut down. Here’s a look at four facts about food facility audits so you’ll be better prepared to tackle your job in the food industry.
All 3 Levels of Government Have a Role in Food Safety Inspections
Food safety inspections in Ontario are covered by a patchwork of federal, provincial, and municipal laws. On the federal level, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for enforcing federal food safety laws at federally registered food facilities, which is any facility that moves food products across provincial or international borders.
The provincial government’s role in food safety is split between a number of departments and agencies. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs inspects provincially registered establishments where dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs, livestock, and edible oil products are grown, manufactured, or processed. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC), meanwhile, administers food safety programs for food premises, such as setting standards for restaurants. However, the MOHLTC doesn’t conduct its own inspections. That responsibility is delegated to municipal or regional Public Health Inspectors.
Health Inspectors Do Not Need a Warrant to Enter a Place of Business
Health inspectors have broad powers to enforce food safety laws. For example, both federal CFIA inspectors and local Public Health Inspectors can enter a place of business during normal operating hours without a warrant. The only exception is if the business is located inside a house, in which case the owner of the house must give the inspector permission to enter or a warrant must be obtained.
Health Inspectors Can Immediately Shut Down a Food Facility Due to an Urgent Health Hazard
Shutting down a food facility is not something that inspectors take lightly, but they can do so if needed. If there is a food safety issue that can be corrected while the health inspector is there then the inspector will allow it to be fixed on the spot. However, if the problem poses a public health hazard and it cannot be fixed right away then a health inspector can close the establishment. A rodent infestation, for example, would justify closing down a food facility immediately. A food facility remains closed until the owner shows that the problem has been fixed. Because a business can lose a lot of money and suffer serious harm to its reputation if it is shut down, it is best to avoid this ever happening in the first place. The training you receive by studying food safety can help you ensure that any food facility you work at can avoid serious violations.
Food Facilities Can Be Penalized for Not Having a Certified Food Handler on the Premises
As professionals with food safety certification know, Toronto by-law 678-2006 requires that a food establishment have at least one Certified Food Handler supervisor on the premises when the establishment is operating. Most other municipalities have a similar version of this bylaw. So, if a food establishment is audited by a health inspector and no supervisor who is a Certified Food Handler is present, then the establishment could be penalized.
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