Safe Food for Canadians Act: What it means for import and export trade

The Government of Canada introduced the Safe Food for Canadians Act to modernize, simplify and strengthen rules for food commodities imported into Canada and to provide increased export opportunities for Canadian producers.

The legislation provides clear and consistent rules for food commodity importers so that consumers can be confident that all food on grocery shelves is safe, regardless of its origin.

It also enables Canadian exporters to be more competitive abroad and open access to an even greater number of international markets by further aligning our world class food safety system with that of our key trading partners.

New legislation to meet changing needs

The Safe Food for Canadians Act consolidates several pieces of legislation - the Canadian Agricultural Products Act, the Fish Inspection Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act - which were created at various times over the past decades. They have served Canadians well, but the time has come to have new tools to manage today’s risks to food safety. 

By consolidating and modernizing these statutes, industry will benefit from greater consistency in rules and regulations, which, in turn, will provide consumers with a safer food supply. The legislation also creates new export opportunities for Canadian producers, while enhancing safeguards for imported food commodities.

What new legislation means to food commodity importers and exporters

With the adoption of the Act, the Government of Canada has new authorities that will result in clearer rules for Canadian food commodity exporters and for trading partners importing food commodities to Canada.

Improved import controls

The new import control measures builds on Canada's existing suite of import safety measures by clearly prohibiting the entry of potentially unsafe food commodities into Canada. In addition, the Act includes provisions to register or licence importers, holding them accountable for the safety of the food commodities they bring into the country. 

Authority to certify food commodities for export

In recent years, more countries have required that the foods they import be certified, reflecting a growing international effort to ensure food safety. The legislation provides the CFIA the authority to certify all food commodities for export, allowing for a consistent approach to Canadian export certification.

As well, the legislation is an important step in aligning Canada’s food safety system with our trading partners, such as with the Food Safety Modernization Act in the United States. Flexible, modern authorities will allow for timely responses to new international trade requirements.

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