Understanding the Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: A Handbook for Food Businesses
Summary of the parts of the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

Part 1: Interpretation

22. This Part contains the definitions of key terms used in the proposed regulations.

23. The definitions in Part 1 apply throughout the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) including the documents that are incorporated by reference.

There may be additional definitions found at the beginning of other parts of the regulations or within the incorporated by reference documents. In these instances, those definitions are specific to that Part only and do not have the same meaning if the term is mentioned in other parts of the proposed SFCR or other incorporated by reference documents.

  • For example, the definitions found in Part 6 (Commodity Specific Requirements, Division 6 Meat Products and Food Animals) are specific only to Division 6.

24. Some definitions in Part 1 apply only to one type of food. In these cases, the definition only applies to the specified food. Here are several examples:

  • the definition for "carton" applies only to eggs
  • the definition of "case" applies only to eggs
  • the definition of "condemn" applies only to food animals or some meat products

25. When a definition is not in the SFCA or SFCR, the plain and ordinary meaning of the term, which could include the definition found in the dictionary or the commonly understood meaning of the word, would be applied.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations. They include terms that are defined in the Safe Food for Canadians Act and proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

What is a food commodity?

26. In the Safe Food for Canadians Act, food commodity means

  1. any food as defined in section 2 of the Food and Drugs Act;
  2. any animal or plant, or any of its parts, from which food referred to in paragraph (a) may be derived; or
  3. anything prescribed to be a food commodity.

The Food and Drugs Act, section 2, says that food includes any article manufactured, sold, or represented for use as food or drink for human beings including chewing gum and any ingredient that may be mixed with food for any purpose whatever.

Food for animals (i.e. feed) is not included in this definition.

What is a document?

27. In the SFCA, a document means anything on which information is recorded or marked, that can also be understood by a person, or read by a computer or other device.

28. The definition of document is so broad that it could include figures, pictures, videos, or other documentation.

29. Documents must be in English or French, and be kept for two years.

  • Traceability documents would need to be kept for two years after the food was provided to another person or sold at retail.
  • Documents for scheduled processes must be kept for three years. One example of a scheduled process is commercially sterilized low-acid hermetically sealed foods.

30. If a CFIA inspector requests a traceability document, it must be legible. If it is electronic, it must be provided in a single file and in plain text that is not encrypted.

What is the difference between a document and a record?

31. Document is a broad term that can include many different types of information (for example, a scheduled process). A record is a type of document that is kept as proof that something happened (for example, complaints received, monitoring a piece of equipment).

32. What are commonly known as records are now covered by the broader term "document."

What is an establishment?

33. Establishment means any place, including a conveyance, where a food is manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged, or labelled.

34. The proposed definition of establishment is quite broad, and extends beyond the physical structure. It includes conveyances on which certain activities are conducted or open areas that are not contained by a building (for example, fields).

What is a conveyance?

35. A conveyance is something that is used as a means of transportation. This includes fishing vessels, aircraft, trains, motor vehicles (such as cars and trucks), trailers, cargo containers, and forklifts.

36. The term conveyance is used in three ways:

  • A conveyance in which a food is manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged, or labelled. In this scenario, the conveyance is the establishment.
    • For example: a fishing vessel that processes, freezes, and packages scallops.
  • A conveyance that is used within an establishment. In this scenario, the term "conveyance" is used with the term "equipment."
    • For example: a forklift used in an establishment.
  • A conveyance that is used for transporting purposes outside of the establishment.
    • For example: an aircraft that carries food from point A to point B.

What is a person?

37. In the Safe Food for Canadians Act, person has the same meaning as in the Criminal Code. In the Criminal Code, a person can be an individual or an organization – including an association, company and corporation.

What is the difference between a person and an individual?

38. When the term "individual" is used, the scope of the definition is limited to one individual as opposed to an organization. The term "person" is broader and its meaning can range from one individual to one organization.

What do the terms "consumer prepackaged," "prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged" and "prepackaged foods" mean?

39. "Consumer prepackaged" foods are in their final packaging, and ready for sale to an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes.

40. The term "prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged" food includes food packaged in bulk containers and usually sold to a person rather than an individual (see above clarification on the term "person" in item 37, noting that it can mean a company).

41. A "prepackaged food" can include both of those: consumer prepackaged foods or prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged foods.

What does "prepare" mean?

42. "Prepare" includes these activities: processing, treating, preserving, handling, testing, grading, coding or slaughtering, or any other prescribed activity.

43. In the proposed SFCR, producing, including growing and harvesting of fresh fruits or vegetables, would be another prescribed activity under the definition of "prepare."

Part 2: Trade

44. Part 2 establishes who needs to be licensed by the CFIA. It also sets the rules around trading food internationally and between provinces (inter-provincially).

45. Throughout Part 2, there are many references to the Safe Food for Canadians Act. It is important to read both documents together to get the full meaning of the provisions.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

Who would need a licence?

46. Generally speaking if you are doing any of these activities, you would need a licence: importing, manufacturing, processing, treating, preserving, grading, packaging, or labelling a food that will be exported or moved between provinces and slaughtering a food animal.

47. For more information on whether or not you need a licence, refer to the Would you need a licence? tool.

Would there be exemptions from licensing?

48. Exemptions from licensing requirements are proposed for the following:

49. Being exempt from licensing requirements does not mean you are exempt from all other parts of the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) and Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. If a person does not require a licence they are still responsible for ensuring the food is safe and meets labelling requirements.

Why are food additives exempt from the licensing requirements of the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations?

50. Food additives are exempt from the licensing requirements of the proposed SFCR because scientists from Health Canada's Health Products and Food Branch conduct a detailed and rigorous pre-market evaluation that focuses on safety. Food additives will continue to be regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations.

Would there be exemptions for personal use?

51. Yes. In order to qualify for personal use exemptions, the food must meet the following conditions:

  • it cannot be for commercial use
  • it has to be imported, exported or traded inter-provincially by an individual that is not conducting business
  • it must be equal to or under the maximum quantity limits found in the document Maximum Quantity Limits for Personal Use Exemption. (This document would be incorporated by reference in the proposed SFCR.)

If I am trading food inter-provincially would it be my responsibility to ensure that I buy food from a licence holder?

52. Yes. If a person is trading food inter-provincially (across provincial borders), it is their responsibility to ensure that it comes from a licence holder and that it meets Canadian requirements.

An exception exists in the case of field packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables. Field packers do not require a licence as long as the fresh fruit or vegetable will be further processed in another province by a licence holder.

I have an internet-based business. Would the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations apply to me?

53. Yes. The proposed SFCR is also applicable to anyone who trades food on the internet. You would need to meet the requirements of the regulations like any other food business.

How would the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations apply to importers?

54. The proposed SFCR would introduce requirements for all types of imported foods. For example, food importers would need to do the following:

  • have a licence to import
  • have a preventive control plan (in most cases)
  • import food that is prepared under similar food safety controls as food prepared in Canada
  • maintain procedures and processes for handling and investigating complaints and recalls

Would I need a Canadian address to import food?

55. If you are an importer, the proposed SFCR would allow you to import food without a Canadian address (fixed place of business) as long as you:

  • have an address (fixed place of business) in a foreign country that has a food safety system that provides the same level of protection as the proposed SFCR; and
  • import the food to Canada directly from the foreign country in which you carry out your business.

56. The CFIA, together with the government of the foreign country, would determine if their food safety systems provide at least the same level of protection as Canada.

57. The CFIA would maintain a list of foreign country food safety systems that have been determined to provide at least the same level of protection as the SFCA and SFCR. The list would also provide details on which foods it applies to.

Would I be able to import a food that does not meet the requirements of the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations?

58. Yes, you can import non-compliant foods if:

  • the food is labelled "for further preparation only"
  • if you bring the food into compliance within three months once it has arrived in Canada

However, the following foods and requirements must meet the proposed SFCR before they are imported:

  • meat products
  • container size requirements for fresh fruits or vegetables, processed fruit or vegetable products, and honey
  • grade requirements for fresh fruits or vegetables, processed fruit or vegetable products

How would the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations apply to exporters?

59. An exporter can only export food that was manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, graded, packaged, labelled or slaughtered by a licence holder.

60. When there are no requirements in place in the foreign country, exported foods are required to meet the food safety requirements of the proposed SFCR.

61. Generally, a person is permitted to export a food that meets a foreign country's requirement that is different from the Canadian requirement—as long as it is not one of the listed provisions in section 13(3)(a). These requirements must always be met and relate to traceability, animal welfare, humane treatment of animals, preventive control plans, and workshift agreements. You are required to keep written documents that substantiate the foreign requirements have been met and your food must be clearly labelled for export.

62. Foods previously regulated solely under the Food and Drug Regulations that were not eligible to receive export certificates from the CFIA may now be eligible for certification under the proposed SFCR.

63. If you need an export certificate from the CFIA, you would need to have a licence and a written preventive control plan, even if the food you are exporting is exempt from these requirements.

What happens if my exported food needs to be returned back to Canada?

64. If a food needs to be returned (in its exported condition), it must be returned to the licence holder or the person who prepared the food.

65. The return of meat products needs to be authorized by a CFIA inspector before it is returned. The licence holder will store and handle the product in its imported condition.

Can I mix a contaminated food with a non-contaminated food to bring it into compliance?

66. No. Mixing contaminated product with non-contaminated product is an unacceptable practice.

What is the purpose of Division 2 Trade of Fresh Fruits or Vegetables?

67. The provisions in this division outline the activities you cannot do concerning the trade of fresh fruits or vegetables. It also requires a Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) membership if you want to be exempted from the application of Division 2.

Why does the definition of "fresh fruit or vegetable" not apply in Division 2?

68. Currently, the definition of fresh fruit or vegetable in the proposed SFCR is broader than the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) definition. The DRC definition of fresh fruits or vegetables applies in Division 2.

Part 3: Licensing

69. Part 3 Licensing would replace the existing commodity-based registrations and licences that the CFIA administers (a list of Acts and Regulations is provided in Annex A). These would be replaced with consistent and more broadly applicable requirements for all food businesses.

70. This Part outlines information on the following:

  • obtaining a licence
  • the process of issuing, renewing and amending a licence
  • provisions around suspension and cancellation

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

Would everyone need a licence?

71. Yes, for the most part. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations would extend licensing requirements to everyone who:

  • imports food
  • manufactures, processes, treats, preserves, grades, packages, or labels food for export or to be traded inter-provincially
  • requests an export certificate
  • slaughters food animals for export or to be traded inter-provincially

72. The Would you need a licence? tool will help you determine whether or not you would be required to have a licence.

What would be exempt from the proposed licensing requirements?

73. Refer to item 48.

Would storage facilities need a licence?

74. Storage facilities would not require a licence from the CFIA, but may apply for a licence voluntarily. Some storage facilities may need a licence to meet the importing requirements of some countries.

However, if you are storing and handling imported meat products that require inspection you would need to have a licence.

What would happen to my current licence or registration once the proposed regulations are in effect?

75. The CFIA would no longer issue registration numbers. The CFIA would transition from registering an establishment to licensing a "person". If you own or operate a federally registered establishment, you would need to transition to a licence once the regulations come into force.

76. If you currently hold a registration or licence issued under the Canada Agricultural Products Act, Fish Inspection Act, and Meat Inspection Act, it will remain valid until it expires, provided there is a statement on it that it is also a licence issued under the SFCA. Once expired, you would be required to apply for a licence under the SFCR.

For how long would my licence be valid?

77. Your licence would be valid for two years unless the licence is cancelled before that time.

How much would it cost to get a licence?

78. The CFIA is reviewing its service standards and fees to verify they are in line with actual cost of delivering the services and treating all industry sectors equally. Before the CFIA changes any of its service standards or fees, it will consult with stakeholders.

Can I get a licence before the CFIA inspects my establishment?

79. In certain cases, yes. It is not expected that all establishments would be inspected before receiving a licence from the CFIA. The CFIA would use a risk-based approach to inspection which means that a variety of risk factors would be used to prioritize and manage inspection activities.

80. The CFIA may have to inspect licence holders requesting an export certificate, regardless of their risk profile, if it is a requirement of the importing country.

How would I apply for a licence?

81. You will not need a licence until the proposed SFCR comes into force. At that time, in order to get a licence, you must complete a licence application. The upcoming My CFIA service would deliver and coordinate the full range of operational administrative services required for domestic and imported food related to SFCR licensing.

82. The licence fee must be paid in full upon application.

83. As Part of the licence application, you would need to do the following:

  • attest that you meet the applicable requirements of the proposed SFCR, including having a preventive control plan (if required)
  • attest that the information provided in the application is complete, truthful, and not misleading
  • provide an approved work shift agreement for activities relating to processing meat products and slaughtering food animals

Could my licence be suspended?

84. Yes, the CFIA could suspend a licence if any of the following occur:

  • you do not comply with any applicable provisions of the Safe Food for Canadians Act or its regulations or the Food and Drugs Act or its regulations
  • you have not paid any fees related to your licence
  • there is a risk of injury to the consumer

Could my licence be cancelled?

85. Yes, the CFIA could cancel a licence if any of the following occur:

  • you fail to take corrective action within 90 days after your licence is suspended
  • you continue to conduct activities identified in your licence while under suspension
  • you have been convicted of an offence under the SFCA or FDA
  • you repeat the same non-compliance that previously led to a suspension within the period the licence is valid
  • you have been suspended twice within the period the licence is valid and you are non-compliant for any reason again
  • you are not in compliance with section 15 of the SFCA (providing false or misleading information)

Can I conduct an activity that requires a licence but is not indicated on my licence application?

86. No. You can only conduct an activity that it is identified in your licence application. The licence can be amended to include new activities, if needed.

87. If the activity does not require a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Act then it does not need to be included in your application.

When would I need a licence?

88. Once the SFCR comes into force, the following timelines would apply:

  • a person would require a licence immediately for meat, fish, eggs, processed eggs, dairy, processed fruit or vegetable products, honey, maple, and fresh fruit or vegetable products
  • a staged implementation approach for coming into force for all other foods would provide an additional two years to apply for a licence

However, if you request an export certificate, you must meet all requirements immediately.

You can also find more information in Part 15: Temporary Non-Application to Certain Commodities and Persons.

Is it more practical to apply for a licence as an individual or as a company (a person)?

89. It is up to you, as the licence applicant, to determine how you want to structure your business. In the case of a small business, you may want to have a licence in your name. Larger companies may see more advantages in having a licence in the company name.

Could I get a voluntary licence?

90. Yes. You may apply for a voluntary licence for the following:

  • storing food that is intended for inter-provincial trade or export
  • importing food additives, alcohol or grains [Refer to item 48) or preparing them for inter-provincial trade or export
  • exporting a food

In all cases you must meet the conditions set out in the proposed SFCR.

91. The CFIA cannot issue a licence for activities that are not covered by the proposed SFCR.

Part 4: Preventive Control Measures

92. Part 4 contains the majority of the food safety provisions in the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. The preventive controls are based on internationally recognized good manufacturing practices and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

93. Although a written preventive control plan (Refer to item 99) may not be required for all food businesses, all food businesses must meet the requirements in Part 4.

94. In Part 4, it is important to understand the implications of the definition of the term "operator." An operator is:

  1. a holder of a licence to manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, store, package, or label a food; to store and handle a meat product in its imported condition; or to slaughter a food animal
  2. a person who grows or harvests fresh fruits or vegetables
  3. any person who handles fish in a conveyance (for example, a vessel)

95. Importers are not considered operators within Part 4. Therefore, when the preventive control measure is applicable to importers, it is specifically identified with the phrase "holder of a licence to import."

If the term "operator" is used on its own, the requirement is not applicable to importers.

How is Part 4 Preventive Controls structured in the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations?

96. The preventive control requirements in the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are outlined under the following headings. Here is a short description of some of the requirements.

  • Biological, Chemical, and Physical Hazards
  • Treatments and Processes
    • Requires processing or treating food to eliminate any biological, chemical, or physical hazards that present a risk of contamination to the food.
  • Maintenance and Operation of Establishment
    • Requires that establishments are maintained and operated in a way that meets preventive control requirements in sections 48 to 78 in the proposed SFCR.
  • Sanitation, Pest Control and Non-Food Agents
    • Requires that sanitation is conducted in a manner that does not present a risk of contamination to the food.
    • Requires that pests are safely excluded from establishments to reduce the risk of contamination.
    • Requires that non-food agents, such as lubricating oils and cleaning chemicals, are identified, suitable and effective, and that they are used in a manner that would not pose a risk of contaminating the food.
  • Conveyances and Equipment
    • Requires that conveyances and equipment are designed, constructed, and maintained to prevent contamination, and cleaned and sanitized to prevent contamination.
  • Conditions Respecting Establishments
    • Requires that the outside and the inside of the facility is maintained to prevent or control sources of contamination.
  • Unloading, Loading, and Storing
    • Requires that loading and unloading is conducted in a way that does not contaminate the food.
    • Requires that the food and its ingredients, packaging, and labels are stored in a way that does not contaminate the food.
  • Competency
    • Requires that workers are trained and knowledgeable about safe food handling practices and processing (as appropriate to their role).
  • Hygiene
    • Requires that appropriate clothing and, if applicable, hairnets, beard nets, gloves, etc. are worn when handling food.
  • Communicable Diseases and Lesions
    • Requires that anyone entering a food establishment would not expose foods to open sores and lesions or communicable diseases that can be transmitted in food.
  • Investigation and Notification, Complaints, and Recall
    • Requires an investigation if a potential non-compliance or food safety issue is identified.
    • Requires immediate CFIA notification and action when there is a risk to human health.
    • Requires that written procedures and processes are developed to handle and investigate complaints.
    • Requires that written recall procedures are in place and tested to remove any affected foods from the distribution chain.
    • These requirements are applicable to all food businesses, including those that are not required to have a written preventive control plan.

97. The requirements for a written preventive control plan are outlined in sections 84 to 87 in the proposed SFCR.

Additional guidance on the preparation of a written preventive control plan can be found in:

Refer to Annex B for a full listing of requirements that must be considered when preparing your written preventive control plan. It is important that you consider which requirements apply to your business and prepare to include them in your plan.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

What are preventive controls?

98. Preventive controls are measures that prevent or mitigate hazards associated with preparing food products. They are based on the CODEX Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene CAC/RCP 1-1969 PDF (176 kb).

What is a preventive control plan?

99. A preventive control plan is a written document that demonstrates how hazards and risks to your food products are identified and eliminated (or reduced to an acceptable level). The preventive control plan is based on the internationally accepted principles of CODEX Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene CAC/RCP 1-1969 PDF (176 kb) and includes elements relating to packaging, labelling, grading, and standards of identity (Refer to Annex B).

The plan would outline the measures and actions taken to ensure that food:

  • is safe for the consumer and fit for human consumption, and
  • conforms to safety and market fairness requirements (such as labelling, packaging, standards of identity, grading, humane treatment, and net quantity).

What is the difference between a HACCP plan and a preventive control plan?

100. A preventive control plan contains the food safety control measures typically found in a HACCP plan, as well as additional descriptions of the measures in place to demonstrate that you are meeting the applicable market fairness requirements (e.g. for labelling, packaging, standards of identity, grades, humane treatment and net quantity). A list of requirements that may need to be included in a preventive control plan is found in Annex B.

Would I need a preventive control plan?

101. As outlined in the Would you need a preventive control plan? tool, a preventive control plan would be required for most foods, such as:

  • foods (including ingredients) that are not specifically exempt from licensing requirements and that are traded from one province to another
  • meat from slaughtered food animals (other than game animals) when the meat is to be traded from one province to another
  • imported foods
  • fresh fruits or vegetables grown and harvested that are moved from one province to another
  • fish products or meat products for export, with or without a certificate
  • exported foods that require a certificate from the CFIA.

Would small and micro businesses receive help to meet these proposed requirements?

102. Yes. The CFIA consulted with small and micro businesses and recognises the challenges that some small businesses may have in meeting the administrative and compliance requirements related to the proposed regulations.

To help address this, a staged implementation approach for coming into force for small businesses to comply with the proposed preventive control requirements has been proposed; refer to the table below.

Table 1: Proposed staged implementation approach for Part 4 requirements
Meat, Fish, Eggs, Processed Eggs, Dairy, Processed Fruit or Vegetable Products, Honey, Maple Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

All Other Foods

>$30,000 and ≥5 employees

All Other Foods

>$30,000 and <5 employees

All Other Foods

≤$30,000

Preventive control measures Immediately +1 year +2 years +3 years +3 years
Written preventive control plan Immediately +1 year +2 years +3 years Not required Table Note 1

Table Note

Table Note 1

In addition to all other foods, honey, maple, and fresh fruit or vegetable products would not need a written preventive control plan if they have gross annual sales of food that is ≤$30,000.

Return to table note 1  referrer

If you request an export certificate, you must meet all requirements immediately.

The CFIA is committed to providing plain language tools and other services to help you understanding how to achieve compliance (Refer to item 97). In addition, there is access to technical expertise through the Ask CFIA initiative.

As an importer, would I be subject to Part 4: Preventive Control Measures?

103. As an importer, it is your responsibility to ensure that the food you import is safe at the time of import and has been subject to the same preventive controls outlined in Part 4.

Item 58 refers to certain exceptions where the food does not need to meet the preventive control requirements at the time of import.

104. Your preventive control plan would need to demonstrate that the imported food has been manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged, and labelled with at least the same level of protection provided by the applicable preventive controls. This could be demonstrated, for example, by reliable assurances from your foreign supplier or a third party such as an accredited body.

Would I need a written preventive control plan if the only activity I am doing is exporting?

105. You would need a written preventive control plan if you require an export certificate from the CFIA. If a certificate is not required, and you are only exporting the food (for example, you are a broker) then you would not need a written preventive control plan.

Refer to the Would you need a preventive control plan? tool for more information about when written preventive control plans are needed.

When I need to write a preventive control plan, where should I begin?

106. The CFIA recognizes that for some businesses, developing a preventive control plan may be a challenge. Resources on CFIA's website will help you get started.

Whether you use the templates, a consultant, or other third party resources to help you develop a written preventive control plan, you are ultimately responsible for the information contained within the document and for ensuring it is properly implemented.

I have a fish Quality Management Program (QMP) plan or a Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) plan. Would they be valid?

107. Yes, the criteria identified in these documents would still be valid. However, you will have to make adjustments to include the additional market fairness elements (Refer to Annex B) and ensure there are no gaps that need to be addressed. You will also have the flexibility to change your program to a more outcome-based approach.

108. Importers and exporters who have existing documentation and processes in place (e.g. QMPi and fish exporters with Export Certification Control Program plans) can still use these plans, but should review them to ensure all the applicable preventive control requirements have been met.

The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations talks about the need to conduct a hazard analysis. Where can I find more information about this step?

109. Information on conducting a hazard analysis is outlined in A Draft Step-by-Step Guide for Domestic Food Businesses and Exporters: Preparing a Preventive Control Plan and the Draft Preventive Control Templates—For Domestic Food Businesses and Exporters.

The Reference Database for Hazard Identification is a tool developed to help food processors identify potential hazards in food processing.

More information on hazards may be provided by provincial authorities and companies that specialize in hazard analysis.

Part 5: Traceability

110. This Part Includes the requirement to trace food one step forward and one step back. Specifically:

  • 88 (1)(a) and (b) pertain to tracing food one step forward
  • 88 (1)(c) and (d) pertain to tracing food one step back
  • 88 (1)(e) pertains to tracing the movement of the food before sale

111. Part 5 also includes details on:

  • what information must be kept
  • how long traceability documents must be kept, and
  • when the documents must be provided

112. Documents required under this Part must be provided at the CFIA's request in English or in French. If they are provided electronically, they must be in a format that can be imported and easily read by standard commercial software.

113. While traceability documents do not need to be stored in Canada, they must be accessible in Canada and must be retained for two years after the food was provided to another person or sold at retail.

114. Traceability requirements for intra-provincially traded foods apply to retailers, and importers selling the food within their province.

115. The CFIA has developed the What would your traceability requirements be? tool to help you determine what information needs to be included in your traceability system.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

I sell food at retail; would I need to trace the food I sell?

116. Retailers (excluding restaurants or other similar businesses that sell food as meals or snacks) would be responsible for tracking the incoming food that they sell (one step back). However, they are not required to track the sale of the food to the consumer (one step forward).

More information on who needs to have a traceability system in place is found in the What would your traceability requirements be? tool.

What is a lot code?

117. A lot code is a unique identifier for your food that allows it to be traced. You are responsible to determine what it represents and how it is represented. An explanation of how to read the lot code should be included in your traceability system.

When would I need to keep traceability documents?

118. Once the SFCR comes into force, the following timelines would apply:

  • a person would be required to keep traceability documents immediately for meat, fish, eggs, processed eggs, dairy, processed fruit or vegetable products, honey, maple, and fresh fruit or vegetable products
  • fresh fruit or vegetable growers and harvesters would have an additional year
  • a staged implementation approach for coming into force for all other foods would provide an additional two years

Part 6: Commodity Specific Requirements

119. Part 6 contains additional requirements for certain foods. If your business is not involved in the food commodities listed below, you do not need to consider Part 6.

120. Part 6 is divided into six commodity specific divisions:

  • Division 1: Dairy
  • Division 2: Eggs
  • Division 3: Processed Egg Products
  • Division 4: Fish
  • Division 5: Fresh Fruits or Vegetables
  • Division 6: Meat Products and Food Animals

121. There is also commodity specific packaging, labelling, and grade provisions found within Part 10, 11 and 12 of the proposed SFCR.

The Beef, Bison, and Veal Carcass Grade Requirements, the Grades Document, the Canadian Grade Compendium and the Canadian Standards of Identity have been incorporated by reference.

Division 1: Dairy

122. This division sets out the additional requirements that any milk or cream used in making dairy products must meet applicable provincial or federal legislation.

Division 2: Eggs

123. This division sets out the additional conditions for pasteurizing eggs, trading eggs, and grading eggs.

Division 3: Processed Egg Products

124. This division sets out the additional conditions for processing, and treating eggs. It also sets out the conditions for processing, treating and trading processed egg products.

Division 4: Fish

125. This division sets out the:

  • import restrictions for certain species, including live or raw molluscan shellfish (unless the shellfish is from a country whose inspection system for shellfish has been recognized by the CFIA)
  • conditions for harvesting shellfish
  • storage conditions for frozen fish

Division 5: Fresh Fruits or Vegetables

126. This division focuses mainly on:

  • grade requirements for apples, potatoes, onions and other fresh fruits or vegetables imported from the United States
  • grade requirements for apples and potatoes imported from countries other than the United States
  • certification requirement for imported apples, potatoes and onions establishing that grading, packaging, labelling and container size requirements are met
  • exemption of small shipments of imported apples, potatoes and onions (not more than 15 containers each with an aggregate net weight of not more than 250 kg) from the certification requirement
  • in transit shipments of fresh fruits or vegetables from the United States

Division 6: Meat Products and Food Animals

127. This division sets out the requirements for:

  • CFIA inspection services (work shift agreements)
  • humane treatment and slaughter of food animals
  • ante-mortem and post-mortem examination and inspection
  • slaughtering and dressing
  • identifying a meat product as edible
  • documenting and document keeping
  • specific import and export requirements related to meat products

Part 7: Recognition of Foreign Systems

128. This Part Is applicable to meat products and shellfish only. It sets out the process for the recognition (by the CFIA) of a foreign country's inspection system and recognition of a meat establishment within that foreign country.

Further information is provided in CFIA's Foreign Food Safety Systems Recognition Framework.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

Are there any changes to the current recognition of foreign systems for the meat and shellfish industries?

129. No. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations has been updated to reflect actual practice.

Part 8: Ministerial Exemptions

130. Part 8 sets a single streamlined approach, allowing ministerial exemptions for any food for two reasons:

  1. to alleviate a shortage of domestically produced food, or
  2. to test market a food.

131. Administrative procedures for ministerial exemptions would not be included in the proposed SFCR but included in policy. This change eases regulatory burden and makes the ministerial exemption process more efficient.

132. Ministerial exemptions may be granted only when the following conditions are met:

  • the applicable fees are paid
  • application is complete, truthful and not misleading
  • the food meets paragraphs 8 (a) to (d) Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (must be edible and not contaminated)
  • there is no risk of injury to the consumer

133. Test market authorizations may be granted only when they would not confuse or mislead the public, or disrupt the normal trading patterns of industry or the normal pattern of food pricing.

134. Ministerial exemptions and test market authorizations are valid until the date indicated in the exemption, or when no date is indicated, two years.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

If my ministerial exemption or test market was issued before the SFCR comes into force, would it still be valid?

135. Yes. The ministerial exemption or test market authorization for foods prepared before the proposed SFCR comes into force will remain valid until its expiry date. Once expired, the food would have to comply with the proposed regulations.

Part 9: Inspection Legends

136. An inspection legend is a CFIA national registered trademark used for meat products, fish and processed egg products. Inspection legends, and the conditions for using them, apply only to meat products, fish, and processed egg products.

137. Additional labelling requirements for applying inspection legends can be found in Part 11, sections 246 and 272 and the inspection legend is found in Schedule 2.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

Does a CFIA inspector need to be present during the application of the inspection legend?

138. No, the inspector does not need to be present. As long as the criteria to hold a licence are met, the inspection legend can be applied.

Can I use my old inspection legend?

139. No, once the proposed SFCR come into force, you would only be able to apply the new inspection legend. However, products previously labelled with old legends may still be sold, as long as they were applied in accordance with the Meat Inspection Regulations, Processed Egg Regulations, or Fish Inspection Regulations before the proposed SFCR comes into force.

Part 10: Packaging

140. Part 10 covers the requirements for the packages themselves; it includes the following:

  • general packaging provisions
  • standard container sizes
  • standards for fill for processed fruit or vegetable products

Part 11: Labelling

141. The existing food labelling requirements from the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, Canada Agricultural Products Act, Meat Inspection Act and the Fish Inspection Act and their regulations have been combined. For the most part, little will change. Where minor changes are proposed, the change is not more stringent than current labelling requirements.

142. The labelling requirements under the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations will remain as they are.

143.The CFIA is developing a modern and innovative food labelling system that would align with the new Safe Food for Canadians Act, and would:

  • provide a better understanding of roles and responsibilities for all government departments (such as Health Canada), for consumers, and for food businesses;
  • promote smarter regulations and risk-based oversight;
  • improve policy development; and
  • improve service delivery for labelling inquiries, information, and tools.

For more information refer to Food Labelling Modernization Initiative.

144. There are five divisions within Part 11.

  • Division 1: General
    • key definitions for Part 11
    • labelling requirements when standards are prescribed for food
  • Division 2: Basic Requirements
    • which foods require a label
    • basic labelling requirements for all prepackaged food
    • labelling requirements for consumer prepackaged foods (from the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations) that are also applicable to intra-provincially traded foods (foods that do not cross a provincial border), such as net quantity declarations, advertising, and bilingual labelling requirements
  • Division 3: Specific Requirements for Certain Foods
  • Division 4: General Requirements
    • official language requirements
    • legibility and type size requirements
  • Division 5: Exemptions from this Part
    • sets out the labelling exemptions

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

Are cargo containers and tankers considered a "container" in this Part of the proposed SFCR?

145. No. The definition of "container" excludes conveyances (vehicles used to transport food), or any container that is an integral Part of a conveyance such as cargo containers or tankers. Food packaged in cargo containers and tankers do not require a label.

Where can I find more information about labelling requirements?

146. The CFIA's Industry Labelling Tool is the food labelling reference for all food businesses in Canada. It provides labelling information on:

  • food products that require a label
  • general principles for labelling and advertising
  • labelling requirements checklist
  • frequently asked questions

Part 12: Grades and Grade Names

147. This Part sets out the conditions for using and applying grades and grade names for certain foods.

148. The biggest change related to Part 12 is that the grades from all of the commodity regulations have been pulled together into two documents that have been incorporated by reference.

  1. The Beef, Bison, and Veal Carcass Grade Requirements—this document was proposed by the Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA), following extensive industry consultations. The CBGA maintains and hosts the document, according to conditions outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the CBGA and the CFIA.
  2. The Canadian Grade Compendium—it consolidates all other Canadian grade requirements in a single document, organized by commodity.

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

What is the advantage of having grades incorporated by reference?

149. Incorporating by reference would enable grades to be more easily updated to reflect industry and international changes.

150. This would address a long-standing industry concern that regulatory changes, which are technical in nature and subject to frequent change, don't keep up with the international market requirements.

Part 13: Seizure and Detention

151. This Part consolidates existing provisions related to the seizure and detention of foods.

152. This Part also contains requirements for the use of detention tags, notices of detention, and notices of release.

Part 14: Organic Products

153. The main intent of Part 14 has not changed since the Organic Products Regulations, 2009 were formed under Canada Agricultural Products Act. However, the language used in this Part was modified for consistency with the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and to respond to stakeholders' comments.

154. The proposed organic provisions cover

  • food for human consumption
  • plant and animals, or any of their parts from which food is derived
  • animal feed
  • aquaculture animal feed
  • seed

The following frequently asked questions are based on feedback from consultations.

Would there be any new regulatory requirements for the organic sector?

155. Yes. The following new requirements have been proposed:

  • organic aquaculture standards related to aquaculture animals, seaweed and aquatic plants
  • a person who is manufacturing, processing, treating, handling, slaughtering, producing, storing, packaging, labelling and conveying an organic product would need to obtain certification for that activity, unless they already hold an organic certification for that organic product

My product is organic; do the provisions in Part 14 prevail over other food provisions?

156. No, one does not prevail over the other; they both apply.  If you wish to label your food as organic, it needs to meet the provisions in Part 14 in addition to all of the other applicable parts of the proposed SFCR.

What is the difference between an inspection mark and an inspection legend?

157. The Safe Food for Canadians Act defines "inspection mark" as a prescribed mark, stamp, seal, product legend, work, design, or any combination of these things. This definition means that an inspection mark is the broader term that includes both the inspection legend and the Canada Organic logo.

Part 15: Temporary Non-Application to Certain Food Commodities and Persons

158. Part 15 provides a delayed coming-into-force for certain regulatory requirements.

  • For example: the requirement to have a written preventive control plan would not apply to the fresh fruit or vegetable sector until one year after the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) come into force.

159. If no "temporary non-application" is specified, the SFCR would be applicable to a person or a food upon coming into force.

160. The regulations would allow a two-year transition period for certification of aquaculture products. Certification of these organic products would be available to the aquaculture industry, if requested, during the two-year transition.

Part 16: Transitional Provisions

161. Part 16 ensures that foods made before the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) comes into force continue to be considered compliant after the SFCR are enforced. This means that food products can be traded and sold without disruption.

Part 17: Consequential Amendments, Repeals and Coming into Force

162. Part 17 ensures the following would be repealed when the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations come into force:

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