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 recognized as having one of the strongest food safety systems in the world. But the speed, volume and complexity of food production have produced new risks and challenges. Responding to these challenges is critical to maintaining Canada's reputation as a world leader in food safety and to help Canada's food businesses remain trusted both at home and abroad.
The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) will make our food system even safer, position food businesses to ensure they produce safe food to be more innovative and competitive at home and abroad, and help avoid costly recalls. The new consolidated regulations will also reduce the regulatory burden by replacing 14 existing commodity-based food regulations with a single set of rules for all food.
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. The period between the final publication of the regulations in Canada Gazette, Part II and coming into force will give Canadian and international businesses time to familiarize themselves with the final regulations and prepare to meet the new requirements, including traceability, preventive controls, and licensing.
The ability to track a food product through the supply chain is a key step to maintaining the safety of food in Canada. It also helps ensure a timely response if a food safety issue is detected.
Generally, businesses will be required to prepare and keep records that:
- Identify the food product
- Trace the food one step back to the supplier
- Trace the food one step forward to whom the product was sold
- If applicable, identify and trace back the ingredients and the derived meat product used to make the food
Retailers will only be required to trace their food back to their supplier, not forward to consumers. The traceability requirements do not apply to restaurants and other similar businesses that sell food as meals or snacks.
Preventive controls refer to a combination of measures that a business would put in place to prevent and control risks to food.
Preventive controls reduce the likelihood of contaminated products entering the market, whether they are prepared within or outside of Canada, and address hazards and risks in such areas as:
- Sanitation and pest control
- Treatments and processes
- Maintenance and operation of establishments
- Unloading, loading and storing food
- Employee competence, hygiene, and health
- Complaints and recalls
Most businesses will need to document their food safety controls in a written preventive control plan (PCP). However, small businesses that make $100K or less in gross annual food sales will need to have preventive controls in place, but will not be required to have a written preventive control plan, unless an export certificate is requested.
Under the new consolidated regulations, businesses will need a licence based on the activities they conduct. Sign up for My CFIA now so you can apply for the licence when it becomes available.
Find out how the new requirements apply to your business by visiting CFIA's interactive tools and timelines.