Premises and food grade material requirements for producing maple syrup in Ontario
Learn more about the requirements for any premises, facilities, equipment and/or utensils used to produce maple syrup in Ontario.
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Ontario Regulation 119/11 - Produce, Honey and Maple Products (O. Reg. 119/11) is a provincial regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001. You must meet the requirements of this regulation if you do any of the following with maple products in Ontario and you do not hold a federal license for that activity:
- advertise for sale
The regulation requires that the following used in the production or packing of maple products must be kept clean and sanitary:
It also requires that the following used during production and storage of maple products (or maple sap) must be made from non-toxic, food grade materials:
- packaging materials
- other food contact surfaces
Refer directly to Section 6 of the regulation for more information about these requirements.
A clean and sanitary environment is necessary to produce safe, high quality maple products. Biological, chemical and physical hazards can impact the safety and quality of maple products.
Biological hazards can pose a food safety risk. Examples include:
Some biological hazards, such as mould and yeast, are not a food safety risk but cause quality issues that may impact the flavour, colour and texture of your maple product.
For more information about preventing mould in maple syrup, refer to Preventing mould growth in maple syrup.
Chemical hazards can occur naturally, or may be introduced intentionally or unintentionally to the maple production environment.
Examples of chemical hazards include:
- lead from equipment (refer to Preventing lead contamination in maple syrup for more information).
- residues from chemicals used to clean and/or sanitize the production area
- non-food grade diatomaceous earth used in filtering
- defoamers, such as dairy or egg products
Physical hazards are substances not normally found in food that can cause physical injury to the person consuming that food. Maple sap and syrup typically undergo several filtering steps, so the likelihood of physical hazard contamination in consumer containers of maple products should be low.
Cleaning and sanitizing
Cleaning is the removal of dirt and debris from production areas and equipment by manual, mechanical and/or chemical methods. Sanitizing is the treatment of a clean surface with a chemical or physical agent to reduce disease-causing microorganisms to a level considered safe for public health.
Both cleaning and sanitizing are important to effectively manage hazards.
Fresh sap or syrup can be removed from equipment with warm water, but, if not removed immediately, remaining residues may require higher water temperatures, longer wash times, and the use of additional mechanical action such as scrubbing. Delayed or incomplete cleaning could also lead to bacteria or fungi on food contact surfaces.
Detergent may be required for residues that remain for extended periods. If using detergent, you must ensure that it is rinsed thoroughly to avoid chemical residues.
The use of high-pressure washers is discouraged because they can increase the risk of aerosol cross-contamination and equipment damage.
Any water used for cleaning should be potable (safe to drink), regardless of the cleaning method used.
With the exception of isopropyl alcohol, which is used to sanitize sap tubing, chemical sanitizers are not usually required for maple syrup production.
The cleanliness of containers is crucial to the safety and quality of any maple product.
Undamaged glass, plastic, and tin containers and caps intended for packing maple syrup are made of new food grade materials and typically arrive clean to the producer. However, the surfaces of these containers are not sterile.
To maintain cleanliness throughout the production process, you are advised to:
- Store containers off the floor (for example, on a skid), away from walls, and in a clean, dry environment.
- Rotate inventory so that oldest stock is used first.
- Properly handle containers so there is no need to wash them before filling. Washing may introduce contaminants including excess water that will decrease the density of the packaged syrup.
- Steam clean or use hot water to clean bulk containers before reusing them, and ensure they are fully drained. If you use chemicals or sanitizers on bulk container, ensure that they are triple rinsed with potable water to remove chemical residues.
- Inspect bulk containers to ensure they are free of internal corrosion and have no holes, dents or other defects.
- Use a liner in barrels.
- Do not use bulk containers that were previously used for non-food products such as petroleum or cleaning chemicals, even when using a liner.
The final packaging area is also crucial to the safe production of maple syrup. It is important for you to ensure that:
- the packaging area is enclosed and separated from other processing areas
- the walls, ceiling, floor and equipment is:
- free of debris
- protected from dust and other contaminants
- cleanable with water
- all food contact surfaces are clean and sanitary
- all personnel filling the containers are properly dressed to handle food and follow hygienic practices such as handwashing.
Food grade materials
All food contact surfaces must be made of food grade materials that protect the food safety and quality of maple products. Material is considered food grade when it does not contaminate food with harmful substances or alter the food's composition and/or sensory characteristics. The material itself, as well as the environment in which the material will be used, must taken into consideration when determining suitability as a food contact surface.
When purchasing, manufacturing, or repairing maple equipment, you must ensure that all materials are food grade, and you are encouraged to ask the equipment vendor for verification.
Standards for food grade materials have been established by government agencies such as:
Characteristics of food grade materials
Food grade materials are:
- Suitable for the intended use and appropriate for the application. Thick walled, food grade high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic is appropriate for the short-term hot packing temperatures of consumer containers, but not for the extended high temperatures of evaporator pans.
- Non-toxic. Surfaces and coatings are free of lead solder, lead, and/or lead-containing alloys or other toxic heavy metals such as zinc that may leach into the food product and create a food safety hazard.
- Smooth with non-porous, non-absorbent surfaces. Surfaces cannot have any features that may trap, absorb or transfer spoilage bacteria, mould spores, chemical residues or extraneous material to the food product. Examples include:
- rough welds
- open seams
- peeling paint
- Durable/corrosion resistant. The material can withstand repeated exposure to food, soil, moisture, heat, and/or cleaning and sanitizing chemicals while maintaining its original surface characteristics.
- The material, in the environment in which it is used, does not chemically react to:
- maple products
- cleaning/sanitizing chemicals
These reactions could create foodborne hazards or affect the organoleptic (taste, colour, odour, and feel) characteristics of the maple product.
For more information about food grade materials used in the production of maple syrup, refer to Preventing lead contamination in maple syrup.