Canada: a new food safety system

Canada: a new food safety system

From 2019 Canadian importers and exporters will be subject to new food safety regulations. Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) is a fundamental reform of the legislation for this sector. Work on it lasted six years[1].

The SFCR implements changes in legislation for the whole food chain and all food products. The regulation consolidates 14 existing legal acts and introduces new standards. Its aim is to improve Canada’s food safety requirements, including traceability throughout the production chain.

What are the main changes to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations?

  • all companies importing, exporting or dispatching food outside the province or territory must be licensed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA);
  • companies with an annual gross sales of more than $100,000 must adopt and implement written prevention procedures related to risk identification in food safety. A written procedure is not required for companies with a lower sales, but they must meet certain requirements regarding the identification of risks in production;
  • companies are required to implement systems that trace the product backwards (from suppliers) and forward (to buyers). This is to improve the process of quick identification of food at risk and immediate withdrawal from the market.

The new provisions will cover:

  • food importers and exporters;
  • companies producing, processing, preserving, sorting, packing and labelling food products for export or dispatch outside the province or territory;
  • meat production plants intended for export or dispatch outside the province or territory;
  • companies that store imported meat products for CFIA control.

The SCFR regulation will enter into force on 15 January 2019, provided that some of the regulations will come into force immediately and some will come into force after a transitional period of 12 to 30 months.

CFIA has published materials to help companies adapt to the new regulations: