SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 035/17

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On January 21, 2017, the CFIA published the proposed regulations [1] for the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The purpose of these regulations is to establish a consistent, preventive focused requirement for all foods and to consolidate 13 food commodities based regulations and the food provisions in the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Regulations in a single regulation. Additional purposes are to improve food safety in Canada and alignment with global requirements.

Seventeen Parts of the Regulations and Key Food Safety Elements

The proposed regulations contain seventeen parts, including Trade; Licenses; Preventive Control Measures; Traceability; Commodity-specific Requirements; Recognition of Foreign Systems; Ministerial Exemptions; Inspection Legends; Packaging; Labelling; Grades and Grade Names; Seizure and Detention; and Organic Products. There are three key safety elements – licensing, traceability and preventive control.


With some exceptions, licensing will be required to import, export or sell food throughout Canada. Licensing applications would require details of a business’s identity, such as company name, and its activities, such as a canned fruit processing. The licensing fee is proposed at $250 CAD and would be valid for two years. Licenses can be suspended or cancelled for non-compliance of the licensee. Companies can apply for one or multiple licenses.


Electronic or paper records will need to be prepared and retained, in order to track food and food ingredients from the immediate supplier to the immediate customer. Retailers need not be required to trace goods to their customers. Information on traceability must be produced upon request, within 24 hours. Information can be produced in French or English. If in an electronic format, this must be accessible in Canada and be able to be imported and manipulated by standard commercial software.

Preventive Controls and Preventive Control Plan (PCP)

Subject to certain exceptions (described in the subsequent section entitled “Exceptions and exemptions”), a written PCP would be required for:

  • Every license holder who imports food or prepares food to be sent or conveyed from one province to another
  • Every person who grows or harvests fresh fruits or vegetables to be exported or to be sent or conveyed from one province to another
  • Every license holder preparing fish products or meat products to be exported
  • Every person, including a license holder, exporting food who requires or requests an export certificate from the CFIA

To develop the PCP, the principals of HACCP are to be used to assure compliance to the act and regulations. Key preventive elements to be considered are:

  • Sanitation, pest control, and non-food agents
  • Conveyances and equipment
  • Conditions respecting establishments
  • Unloading, loading and storing
  • Competency (i.e. for staff)
  • Hygiene
  • Communicable diseases and lesions
  • Investigation and notification, complaints and recall

In addition to these three key food safety requirements, certain commodity specific requirements for food safety, such as meat products being sourced from a country approved by the Minister, would be required. Some other requirements will still apply, such as product standard, grade, inspection requirements, container sizes/weights and labeling. Some changes are proposed such as a ready to eat meat with a non-meat item, e.g. frozen pepperoni pizza, would be treated as a prepared food instead of a meat product.  

Exceptions and Exemptions

Exemptions from licensing, preventive controls and written PCP requirements, unless export certificate is requested or required, exist for:

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Food additives

  • Some unprocessed foods that will be further processed (green coffee beans, oilseeds, etc.). labeled as “For Further Preparation Only” not prepackaged food for consumers

Existing regulatory exemptions such as those for food for personnel use, food for analysis, evaluation and research, food on any conveyance for crew and passengers, food for exhibition providing less then 100kg, eggs if shipment is five or fewer cases and food transit through Canada providing the shipment travels in bonds.

Organic Certification

Organic certification would apply throughout the entire supply chain and the proposed regulation does include organic certification of aquaculture products.

Overview of Phased Implementation Timelines

This table presents an overview of the phased implementation timelines.

Meat, Fish, Eggs, Processed Egg, Dairy, Processed Products, Honey, Maple products Fresh Fruits and Vegetables All Other Foods
>$30K and ≥5 Employees >$30K and <5 Employees ≤$30K
License Immediately + 2 years + 2 years + 2 years
Traceability Immediately (+1 year for growers and harvesters of fresh fruits and vegetables) + 2 years + 2 years + 2 years
Preventive controls Immediately + 1 year + 2 years + 3 years + 3 years
Written PCP Immediately + 1 year + 2 years + 3 years Not required*

*Honey, maple products, fresh fruit and vegetables included.

What Does This Mean For The Food Industry?

Many countries, such as Canada, are requiring companies moving food into and out of those countries to comply with increased food safety restrictions and traceability measures. This means that programs such as Transparency-One and expertise in auditing or evaluating food safety programs have become a necessity, not a luxury. Additionally, the training of personnel to develop and oversee employees that work in these programs becomes necessary, since the license in Canada will be connected to compliance and failure to comply may result in the license being revoked.

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulatory news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions, including analytical testing, audits, certifications, inspections and technical support. We continually invest in our world class testing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology to help you reduce risks, and improve food safety and quality. For further information please visit our website.

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