Food Safety

Ontario Beef Food Safety

Verified Beef Production (VBP) is Canada’s verified on-farm food safety program for beef – a dynamic program to uphold consumer confidence in the products and good practices of this country’s beef farmers.

Canada’s beef farmers already have a reputation for acting responsibly, but VBP takes that to a new level. Grass-roots driven and industry-led, the program is part of a broad effort by Canada’s food providers to ensure on-farm food safety. It’s based on the principles of an international quality control program used widely in many industries, called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). HACCP is the standard used around the world and HACCP-based programs are in place in all federally processed plants for meat and other products. Packing plants have made substantial investments to implement HACCP-based programs at the plant level and will soon want to source their inputs from HACCP-based programs.

The overall result is stronger competitiveness for Canada’s beef industry, as food safety continues to grow as a major factor in consumer buying decisions.


Program Fundamentals

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
SOPs for management practices in the VBP program are designed to reduce or eliminate the possibility of a food safety concern on a beef cattle operation. They include a set of “must do” requirements as well as recommended procedures to help reduce the chance of a hazard, along with a record keeping component to demonstrate what was done.

Effective records
Documenting food safety management practices is the proof that withdrawal times are followed and potential hazards are minimized.

When SOPs are verified through a third party, an optional audit-style process, farm operations achieve the credibility and profile of meeting national VBP standards.

What Consumers Can Do!
There are important ways that consumers can safeguard their health through proper hygiene, effective food preparation and thorough cooking of all foods and meats.

Consumers should remember to:

  • Cook meat to a safe internal temperature. For ground beef it is 71°C/160°F – use a digital, instant read thermometer to know for sure.
  • Wash hands before and after handling food and frequently while cooking, especially after handling raw meat and poultry.
  • Avoid cross contamination of food by washing utensils, plates and cutting boards that have come into contact with raw meat and poultry, in hot, soapy water.
  • Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before you prepare and eat them.
  • Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.]


Mushrooms Canada Food Safety

Fresh Canadian mushrooms are safe to eat! First, the growing rooms are sterilized with steam between crops. Then, the growth medium, also known as substrate, is pasteurized before the mushroom mycelia are planted in it. Mushroom harvesters are well trained in personal hygiene. They wash their hand frequently, before and after breaks. They wear hair nets, and are not permitted to wear any jewellery. This ensures that no foreign objects fall among the mushrooms. These are the first steps in Mushrooms Canada’s HACCP-based On-Farm Food Safety Program.

Have you heard of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points)? HACCP was developed for NASA to prevent the astronauts from getting a food-borne illness in space. Now, the principles of HACCP are being applied to mushroom growing and packing in Canada.

The Mushrooms Canada On-Farm Food Safety (OFFS) program was developed over a seven-year period by Mushrooms Canada and the Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC). The GFTC is recognized as a world-class food-safety training centre. The Mushrooms Canada program complies with the Food Safety Enhancement Program of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and international standards of HACCP.

Mushrooms Canada encourages its members to enrol in the On-Farm Food Safety program by sponsoring a certified Food-Safety Facilitator and sharing the costs of 3rd Party certification. The OFFS Facilitator works hand-in-hand with growers to prepare their individual food-safety programs and conducts Personal Hygiene training seminars for farm employees. When a farm has passed a trial audit, the Facilitator will arrange for the GFTC to conduct a formal 3rd Party audit of the mushroom farm or packing facility. A successful audit is rewarded with a Certificate of Food Safety. The buyers of FRESH Canadian mushrooms can be assured that Canadian mushroom farmers comply with international standards of food safety.