General FAQs

What is the CQA® Program?

The CQA® program is an on-farm program that assists producers in creating flexible, effective food safety procedures that relate to their specific operation. CQA® is based on the seven basic principles of the internationally-recognized HACCP (Hazard Prevention Critical Control Point) model. The program is administered by the Canadian Pork Council and provincial representatives.

Why is it important?

Canadian hog producers are recognized in Canada and around the world for producing top-quality pork. The CQA® program demonstrates their commitment to maintaining that quality.

The CQA® program was developed in response to consumers' interest in having assurances about the way pork is produced. The program provides a mechanism for producers to demonstrate their implementation of sound production practices that promote safe food production.

How Does CQA® Minimize Food Safety Hazards?

The program is comprised of a set of HACCP-based “best practices” for minimizing or eliminating potential hazards that could affect the safety of the final product, pork.

What is involved?

Producers on the program must meet a set of requirements. These requirements are set by a technical team and based on the most recent scientific information available. They are also reviewed by government experts.

It requires that a set of protocols and procedures be described and fully functioning on the farm. It also requires that a series of records be completed. Shaded questions are considered “essential” program requirements, while unshaded questions, although important, are not essential for program recognition. To apply to have a farm validated, the On-Farm Quality Assessment Form must be completed and producers must have a minimum of three months of records for their initial validation and demonstrate a full year of records for each successive validation.

What is Validation?

Validation is the term used to describe the evaluation of the farm operation protocols and record keeping by an external party to determine whether the program requirements have been met.

What Does Validation Involve?

With the On-Farm Quality Assessment Form completed, producers will request to have their operations validated. This involves contacting a recognized program validator and arranging a visit to the farm. On the first visit, the validator will review the On-Farm Quality Assessment Form, and ensure that responses to the shaded questions are appropriate. The validator will review the records for accuracy. He or she will also visit the farming operation to ensure the protocols are working as presented, and are effective. The validator will complete a CQA® Validation Report that will include a review of the findings for the operation. The validator will recommend whether or not the operation meets program requirements.

Who Are The CQA® Validators?

CQA® validators are those individuals that have taken the CQA® training program for validators, and have successfully passed a nationally-set test. At the current time, the vast majority of CQA® validators are licensed veterinarians.

What Does an On-Farm Food Safety Program Mean for Me?

The CQA® program is concerned with on-farm facets of food safety practices. By following the program, producers are playing their part in the food chain safety continuum. When combined with the procedures followed by pork processors, packers and retailers in Canada, they help uphold Canada’s international reputation for safe food. This in turn, translates into wholesome pork that can be purchased with confidence.