January 30, 2019

Canada’s New Safe Food Regulations: What You Need to Know

Written by Garret Weigel | Supply Chain, Food Safety

On January 15, Canada’s new safe food law replaced fourteen sets of previous regulations, effectively altering the course of the nation’s food safety requirements for both importers and exporters. Officially called the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), the law recognizes new threats to food safety, changing consumer preferences, and prevention-focused international standards.

 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is shifting its focus to prevention of foodborne illness and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace. The new requirements will provide clear and consistent rules for food commodities, allowing consumers to be confident that food is safer for consumption and allowing food businesses to avoid costly recalls.

 

General Requirements

The new consolidated regulations are built on three major elements, including licensing, preventive controls and traceability:

  • Food businesses that import or prepare food for export or to be sent across Canadian borders must have licenses and preventive controls that outline steps to address potential risks to food safety (see below for more details).
  • Food businesses must trace their food back to their supplier and forward to whom they sold their products.
  • Importers must maintain procedures for handling and investigating complaints and recalls for the food they import. This requirement applies to food produced in Canada, whether for export markets or domestic markets across provincial or territorial borders.

 

These new requirements also apply to food that is imported for exporting at a later date.

 

Watch our webinar to learn about a newly released study on foodborne illness  conducted by the FDA, and how food safety management systems are key to keeping  customers safe.

 

Licensing of Food Businesses

Under the SFCR, food businesses that conduct any of the following activities are required to obtain a license:

  • Import food
  • Export food that requires an export certificate
  • Manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, or label food to be exported or shipped across Canadian borders
  • Slaughter animals from which meat products are derived for export or to be sent across Canadian borders
  • Store and handle a meat product in its imported condition for inspection by the CFIA

 

Preventive Food Safety Controls

Under the SFCR, most businesses will need to put in place preventive food safety controls to:

  • Import food
  • Manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, or label food to be exported or sent across Canadian borders
  • Grow or harvest fresh fruits or vegetables, handle fish on a conveyance, or slaughter animals from which meat products are derived to be exported or sent across Canadian borders
  • Store and handle a meat product in its imported condition for inspection by the CFIA

 

In addition, food businesses are required to:

  • Maintain a written preventive control plan if their gross annual food revenues are more than $100,000
  • Keep clear and complete traceability records that show where food came from (the supplier) and to whom it was sold

 

Need more help with the new requirements?

This overview provides a general framework for the changes ahead. For more details and advice, CFIA has an instructional section on its website that provides specific information on the license application, a toolkit for businesses, and a host of interactive tools and resources on the new requirements for businesses. Additionally, SmartSense offers digital food safety solutions that help to increase food safety visibility and reduce risk with real-time monitoring.

 

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