You've had your say on the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Now what?

13 September 2017

This article originally appeared in Food in Canada and is republished with the permission of the publisher.

The year 2017 will not only be remembered as Canada’s sesquicentennial. For those in the food industry, it will also be remembered as the year that the much anticipated Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) were pre-published in the Canada Gazette Part I for public comments. At the same time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released the documents to be incorporated by reference to the proposed regulations. Building on the policy direction established in CFIA’s improved food inspection model, the new regulatory framework aims to support a modernized food safety risk management system grounded in outcome-based rather than prescriptive regulations to cover imported, exported and inter-provincially traded food products.

The CFIA received more than 1,300 submissions on the proposed regulations. CFIA officials are busy analyzing feedback and finalizing the regulations for implementation. If all goes according to plan, final publication in Canada Gazette Part II is anticipated in spring 2018.

While the SFCR are not yet in force, you can take steps to determine if your business needs to comply with the key food safety elements of the regulations: licensing, traceability, preventive controls and written preventive control plans (PCPs). Start by visiting the CFIA’s tools, resources and guidance materials on CFIA’s Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations web portal.

The SFCR requirements would be phased-in to reflect business size and different levels of industry readiness. Food businesses operating in the meat, fish, eggs, processed egg, dairy, processed foods, honey, and maple products sectors would have to meet the key food safety provisions of the SFCR when they come into force. Dealers of fresh fruits and vegetables would need a licence and a traceability program on the same date, but would have one full year to meet requirements for preventive controls and a written PCP. Businesses which make or import other food products (for example, bakery products, beverages, coffee and tea, confectionery/chocolate and other “federally non-registered foods”), would have two years to implement requirements, with the exception of micro-businesses with gross annual sales of less than $30,000, which would receive one extra year to complete implementation.

Second, sign up for a secure My CFIA account to access online services. When the regulations come into force, you will be able to access information and complete many business transactions through your My CFIA account.

Finally, prepare for follow-up consultations to the proposed SFCR, beginning with amendments to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations (SFCR and Safe Food for Canadians Act). Administrative monetary penalties represent one of several enforcement options for the CFIA to respond to non-compliance. The amendments are expected to be pre-published in Canada Gazette Part I this summer for public comments.

In parallel with consultations on the proposed SFCR, the CFIA sought feedback on its modernized cost recovery program, including impacts of potential fee increases on businesses. The CFIA will consult again with stakeholders on detailed fee proposals once they are developed.

Changes to food labelling (SFCR and Food and Drugs Regulations) are expected to be published in Canada Gazette Part I in fall 2018. In addition, an incorporation by reference document for food compositional standards of the Food and Drug Regulations will also be proposed. The CFIA has already proposed incorporation by reference of certain compositional standards under the proposed SFCR to respond to consumer and industry demands for enhanced flexibility to facilitate product innovation.

More changes are ahead. Stay connected through the CFIA, this publication, online newsletters and your business networks to receive the latest news and updates on the proposed SFCR and follow-up consultations.

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