Canada's Safe Food for Canadians Regulations to Become Effective

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December 3, 2018 - Patricia Iscaro

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), published on 15 June 2018, will become effective in less than two months, on 15 January 2019. The SFCR applies to all foods imported into Canada, sold in its provinces or interprovincially, or foods prepared for export. These new rules strengthen Canada's food safety system and allow exported food to demonstrate compliance with U.S. importer requirements.

Licenses

The SFCR requires food businesses preparing food for export, interprovincial trade, or slaughtering animals for food and meat products to obtain a license.

Preventative food safety controls

Food businesses must also create preventive control plans (PCP) to import or prepare food for export within provinces or outside of Canada in order to address potential risks to food safety. A PCP is a written document that demonstrates how risks to food and food animals are identified and controlled. Entities that are not required to have a PCP may still need to comply with preventive controls requirements.

Micro-sized business, defined as those that generate $30,000 or less in annual gross food sales, are not required to produce a written PCP. In addition, licensing, preventive controls and a written PCP are not required for:

  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Food additives;
  • Some unprocessed foods that are to be prepared further; these must bear a label indicating that these foods are not prepackaged food for consumers with the words “For Further Preparation Only.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provides a Preventive Food Safety Controls Fact Sheet to help determine compliance needs.

Record-keeping

Record-keeping in accordance with the Codex Alimentarius traceability standards is required for all parties (except retailers) involved in the growth/harvest of fresh fruits or vegetables exported or traded in its provinces.

Exemptions

Among the general exemptions from the SFCR are:

  • Food for personal use when not intended for commercial use (see quantity limits);
    • Food imported, exported, sent or conveyed from one province to another by an individual not a business;
    • Food imported or exported as personal effects of an immigrant/emigrant;
  • Food that is carried on any conveyance that is intended for the crew or passengers;
  • Food that is intended and used for analysis, evaluation, research, or a trade show provided that the food is part of a shipment that weighs 100 kg or less or, in the case of eggs, is part of a shipment of five or fewer cases;
  • Food that is not intended or sold for human consumption.

Business impact

The SFCR, issued by CFIA, replaces 14 sets of regulations with a single regulation thereby reducing the administrative burden on businesses in the agri-food and agricultural sectors.

The SFCR meets U.S. food safety standard requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act's (FSMA) Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP).

Canada's Safe Food for Canadians Regulations affects businesses in the food industry and will become effective on 15 January 2018. Additional information, interactive tools and timelines relevant to specific food industries are available here. Comments and questions may be submitted electronically to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

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