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An on-site audit at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) led to it being awarded it the lowest passing grade, rating its work as "adequate," according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The audit found that the agency needs to improve its oversight on meat processing facilities, especially as it relates to humane handling of animals and sanitation. In addition, the CFIA should focus on hazard analysis and critical control points at processing plants and the supply chain as a whole, the U.S. report said.

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The audit was carried out by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) between Oct. 22 and Nov. 9, 2012, but the results were published only recently. The objective of the audit was to ensure that Canadian practices at facilities working with red meat, poultry and eggs were in line with U.S. regulations and provided an equivalent level of production safety, the FSIS explained in a statement.

For the audit, FSIS officials visited four meat processing facilities that produced ready-to-eat meat products, two red meat slaughter facilities and one egg processing plant. Inspectors were also sent to several food safety agencies and private laboratories where tests for contamination were carried out.

The CFIA has already taken measures to improve its oversight at meat processing facilities, as recommended by the audit, Food Safety News reported.