Producers, processors, marketers and consumers, in Canada and around the world, have a keen interest in food safety. Our industry is constantly challenged to provide assurances that we are doing everything possible to build and maintain Canada 's leadership in the production of safe and wholesome pork. That means having an effective food safety system in place on every farm. If Canada wants to remain competitive, it is absolutely essential. Every stage in the farm-to-fork chain needs to be controlled and monitored.
Around the world, effective food systems are moving toward HACCP, the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point model, which provides those controls. Canadian Quality Assurance (CQA®) is a HACCP-based system.
A working group, led by the Canadian Pork Council, began development of the CQA® program in 1995. Initial documents were pilot-tested by producers to ensure the program was workable prior to its official release in 1998. Producers continue to play a critical role in program development.
CQA® focuses on on-farm processes specifically, assisting with the development of critical control points, protocols and other good production practices that blend seamlessly with on-farm processes Canadian hog producers already follow. Program materials, including the On-Farm Quality Assessment Form (which the producer completes themselves) and the Producer Manual (which provides additional information) outline what protocols need to be developed and what records need to be kept. The completed Assessment Form will be reviewed by a CQA® program validator. The validator will also examine the farm operation, to ensure that protocols are working as planned and that the producer has met all the mandatory CQA® program requirements. If the operation meets all the required program standards, the producer will be recognized by the program.
The Canadian federal government, through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), has established a system to formally recognize on-farm food safety programs, to ensure they are technically sound and delivered appropriately. CQA® has received its Letter of Completion from CFIA, which means the technical content of our program has been reviewed by government experts and has been found to be sound.
There are many benefits for hog producers who participate in CQA®, become officially recognized, and maintain their validation. First and foremost, being on the program provides a path for continuous improvement, by streamlining processes, and preventing or eliminating errors. This inevitably leads to increased knowledge and control.
CQA® producers stay ahead of the curve, by positioning themselves well for selling into new or expanded markets and new product areas. The on-farm documentation provided by CQA® helps producers prove that they are doing everything possible to assure food safety. It provides everything the producer needs to document their efforts and prove their commitment.
Being a part of CQA® is critical for all producers, and provides many benefits. If a producer is not already registered on CQA® they should be.