This guest blog post is provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), as part of a series about the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). The CFIA is dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.
Canada is the world's fifth largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products. Maintaining and enhancing the strength of our export markets is vital to achieving the Government of Canada's trade target of growing agriculture and agri-food exports to $75 billion by 2025.
The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) will further enhance Canada's international reputation as a global leader and help maintain access to the United States and other key markets, as well as potentially open up new trade opportunities.
The new consolidated regulations are based on international food safety standards. These food safety standards are also the basis for modernized food safety regulations that have been, or are being, adopted by Canada's key trading partners, including the United States, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.
Under the new consolidated regulations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will also have broader authority to certify that Canadian food products were manufactured safely. Previously, some export markets had not been accessible for certain types of processed and manufactured foods because the CFIA did not have the authority to issue export certificates for certain products, including manufactured products such as cookies and potato chips.
The new consolidated regulations will now require food businesses that import, or prepare food for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial borders to have licences, as well as preventive control plans that outline potential risks to food safety and steps to control them. The new consolidated regulations will also help reduce the time it takes to remove unsafe food from store shelves, by requiring businesses to trace their food back to their supplier and forward to whom they sold their products.
The regulations will come into force on January 15, 2019. Some requirements will have to be met immediately upon coming into force, while other requirements will be phased in over a period of 12-30 months based on food commodity, type of activity and business size.
Find out how the new requirements apply to your business by visiting CFIA's interactive tools and timelines.
When the new consolidated regulations come into force, the CFIA will publish a list of SFCR-licensed food manufacturers to confirm that they are operating in good standing. To be considered in good standing under the SFCR, food businesses will need to have an acceptable preventive control plan and traceability records.
Being included on this list will help food businesses maintain access to key markets, including the United States.
Once the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations are fully in force, Canadian food businesses exporting foods that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can leverage their SFCR licence to demonstrate that their food safety controls meet their U.S. importers' requirements under the U.S. Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). Under the U.S. Foreign Supplier Verification Program, the U.S. importer can refer to the list of SFCR-licenced Canadian food businesses to meet the U.S. FSVP rules.
Canada and the U.S. have a Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement (FSSRA), which recognizes that the two countries have comparable food safety control measures. Canadian food that can be qualified under the FSVP through the FSSRA includes:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Shelled eggs
- Dairy (except Grade "A" milk and Grade "A" milk products)
- Fish (except farmed catfish, catfish products and molluscan shellfish)
- Other foods (such as snacks, cereals, and bakery products)
Apply for a licence using My CFIA.