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On June 13, 2018, the CFIA published its final regulation for the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The purpose of these regulations is to establish consistent, preventive and focused requirements for all foods. It will also consolidate 13 food commodity based regulations and the food provisions in the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Regulations into a single regulation.

SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 096/18

SGS CTS SafeGuardS vegetables

On June 13, 2018, the CFIA published its final regulation [1] for the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The purpose of these regulations is to establish consistent, preventive and focused requirements for all foods. It will also consolidate 13 food commodity based regulations and the food provisions in the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Regulations into a single regulation. In addition, it will improve food safety in Canada and align it with global requirements.

Seventeen Parts of the Regulations and Key Food Safety Elements

The final regulation contains 17 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.

Licenses

With some exceptions, licensing will be required to import, export or sell food throughout Canada and for companies slaughtering food animals. Licensing applications will require details of a business’s identity, such as company name, and its activities – for example, canned fruit processing. The licensing fee will be published in revised Fees Notice and will be valid for two years. Licenses can be suspended or cancelled for non-compliance by the licensee. Companies can apply for one or multiple licenses.

Traceability

Electronic or paper records will need to be prepared and retained to track food and food ingredients from the immediate supplier to the immediate customer. Retailers are not required to trace goods to their customers. Information on traceability must be produced upon request within 24 hours. The information can be produced in either French or English. If in an electronic format, it 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 person 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 person preparing fish products or meat products to be exported
  • Every person 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 key food safety requirements, certain commodity specific requirements for food safety, such as meat products being sourced from a country approved by the Minister, will be required. Some other requirements will still apply, such as product standards, grade, inspection requirements, container sizes/weights and labeling. Stakeholders should note that changes include the way a ready-to-eat meat is treated when it is included with a non-meat item – for example, a frozen pepperoni pizza. In this case, it will be treated as a prepared food instead of a meat product.  

Exceptions and Exemptions

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

  • There is an exception from written PCP requirements for some regulated parties that generate 100000 (100K) CAD or less annual gross food revenue which don’t apply to those that slaughter food animals, prepare meat products, dairy products, fish, eggs, processed eggs, processed fruit and vegetables or those seeking a certificate for export. Licensing, preventive controls and traceability will still apply for these operations.
  • 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 include 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 will apply throughout the entire supply chain, with the final regulation including organic certification of aquaculture products.

Overview of Phased Implementation Timelines

After the approximate six months delay in coming into effect (January 15, 2019):

Meat, Fish, Eggs, Processed Egg, Dairy, Processed Products, Honey, Maple Products Fresh Fruits and Vegetables All Other Foods
>100K and ≥5 Employees >100K and <5 Employees ≤100K
License Immediately + 1.5 years + 1.5 years + 1.5 years
Traceability Immediately (+1 year for growers and harvesters of fresh fruits and vegetables) + 1.5 years + 1.5 years + 1.5 years
Preventive controls Immediately + 1 year + 1.5 years + 2.5 years + 2.5 years
Written PCP Immediately + 1 year + 1.5 years + 2.5 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, failure to comply may result in the license being revoked, with the company being unable to import or sell food throughout Canada.

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. www.foodsafety.sgs.com.

For enquiries, please contact:

James Cook
Food Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager
t: +01 973 461 1493

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