Operational guideline: Food regulatory response guidelines

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, other requirements will be introduced in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

On this page

1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the control and enforcement actions available to persons administering the food inspection program at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) when responding to non-compliance. It also serves to provide more information on the nature of the available control and enforcement actions; when each action may be applied (based on specifications in the legislation); and any relevant conditions or circumstances. The objective, therefore, is to contribute to an objective, fair, effective, predictable and transparent response to non-compliance.

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents such as the Standard regulatory response process to empower and assist inspectors in responding appropriately and within the Agency's legislated powers to events that require a control or enforcement response. While this guidance may serve as a valuable tool, it is not intended to impede the discretion of CFIA staff tasked with the responsibility of enforcing legislative or regulatory requirements.

When responding to non-compliance, the CFIA strives to achieve consistency and predictability. Similar situations or incidents of non-compliance, regardless of where they occurred, are considered when determining the appropriate regulatory response. However, individual considerations must be given to each incident of non-compliance to determine the most effective course of action. When appropriate, the initial response to non-compliance may be corrective and remedial in nature, usually through corrective actions taken by the regulated party. When warranted and depending on the harm, history and intent associated with a given non-compliance, the CFIA also has the necessary powers and authorities to address the non-compliance through the use of a variety of control and enforcement actions.

Note

Although this document organizes inspector powers, control actions and enforcement actions in separate categories, they are all considered enforcement actions under the relevant Acts and can be used independently or in concurrently as the situation warrants.

2.0 Authorities

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Definitions are located in either the:

5.0 Acronyms

Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.

6.0 Operational guideline

The following guidance identifies the control and enforcement options available under the food related legislation enforced by the CFIA and is intended to be used in conjunction with other food business line or horizontal guidance. This guidance document also identifies the powers of inspectors designated under subsection 13(3) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act for the administration and enforcement of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). When performing inspection, control or enforcement actions, inspectors and other designated or delegated authorities should also verify the specific wording in the relevant Act or regulations.

6.1 Inspector powers

These powers enable inspectors to carry out their duties for compliance verification and control actions under SFCA and FDA. There may be additional inspector powers linked to specific control or enforcement activities that are also identified in the relevant section of this document (for example, powers to deal with a thing seized and detained).

6.1.1 Inspection powers under the Safe Food for Canadians Act

Important note:

The following powers may be used by inspectors when carrying out activities to verify compliance or prevent non-compliance with the SFCA and its regulations. They are not authorized for the purpose of collecting evidence for prosecution.

When an inspector has reasonable grounds to believe an activity regulated under the SFCA is conducted or an item to which the Act applies is located, the inspector may use the powers identified in Table 1.

Table 1: Powers of the inspector that enable access to a place under the SFCA
Powers of the inspector Authority
Enter a place including a conveyance.
Not authorized if the place is a dwelling-house without the occupants consent or a warrant.
SFCA 24(1)
SFCA 26(1)
Enter or pass through private property to gain entry to a place other than a dwelling house on that property. SFCA 24(5)
Order the owner or person having possession, care, or control of the conveyance to stop it or move it to a place where the inspector can enter it. SFCA 24(3)

For a purpose related to verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance with the SFCA, the inspector may use any of the powers listed in Table 2.

Table 2: Powers of the inspector that enable inspection activities under SFCA
Powers of the inspector Authority
Examine or test, or take samples of, anything in the place. SFCA 24(2)(a)
Open a package that is in the place. SFCA 24(2)(b)
Examine a document that is in the place, make copies of it or take extracts from it. SFCA 24(2)(c)
Order the owner or person having possession, care or control of an item to which this Act applies that is in the place to move it or, for any time that may be necessary, not to move it or to restrict its movement. SFCA 24(2)(d)
Use or cause to be used a computer or other device that is in the place to examine data that is contained in or available to a computer system or reproduce it or cause it to be reproduced in the form of a printout or other intelligible output and remove the output for examination or copying. SFCA 24(2)(e)
Use or cause to be used copying equipment that is in the place and remove the copies for examination. SFCA 24(2)(f)
Take photographs or make recordings or sketches. SFCA 24(2)(g)
Order any person in the place to establish their identity to the inspector's satisfaction. SFCA 24(2)(h)
Order any person who, in the place, conducts an activity regulated under this Act to stop or start the activity. SFCA 24(2)(i)
Prohibit or limit access to all or part of the place or to anything that is in the place. SFCA 24(2)(j)
Remove anything from the place for the purpose of examination, conducting tests or taking samples. SFCA 24(2)(k)
Order a person to provide, on the date, at the time and place and in the manner specified by the inspector, any document, information or sample specified by the inspector. SFCA 27

6.1.2 Inspection powers under the Food and Drugs Act

When an inspector believes on reasonable grounds an article to which the FDA or the regulations apply is manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored in a place, the inspector can apply the powers listed in Table 3 to gain access to that place.

Table 3: Powers of the inspector that enable access to a place under FDA
Powers of the inspector Authority
Enter any place at any reasonable time.
Not authorized if the place is a dwelling-house without the occupants consent or a warrant.
FDA 23(1)
FDA 23(1.1)

When an inspector believes on reasonable grounds that a thing is used or capable of being used for the manufacture, preparation, preservation, packaging or storing of a thing regulated under FDA, the inspector can apply the powers listed in Table 4 to conduct inspection activities to determine compliance to FDA and its regulations.

Table 4: Powers of the inspector that enable inspection activities under FDA
Powers of the inspector Authority
Examine any such article and take samples thereof, and examine anything. FDA 23(1)(a)
Enter any conveyance that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds is used to carry any article to which section 6 or 6.1 applies and examine any such article found therein and take samples thereof. FDA 23(1)(a.1)
Open and examine any receptacle or package that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds contains any article to which this Act or the regulations apply. FDA 23(1)(b)
Examine and make copies of, or extracts from, any books, documents or other records found in any place referred to in this subsection that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds contain any information relevant to the enforcement of this Act with respect to any article to which this Act or the regulations apply. FDA 23(1)(c)

6.2 Available control actions

As described in the Standard regulatory response process, control actions are applied by CFIA to control risks. Other guidance documents such as food business line control response plans provide the program design context and factors that may lead to the implementation of a control action. The guidance below provides the regulatory context that should be verified to ensure that control actions are only implemented when authorized by the relevant legislation and when all the legislated conditions tied to the control action are met.

When a food related risk must be controlled by CFIA, the following control actions may be taken independently or in combination with enforcement measures to control the risks to consumers:

Note

Seizure and detention, ordering that an item be moved or not be moved, and ordering the start or stop of an activity are specific powers of an inspector. However, these powers also contribute directly to controlling risks when implementing a control response plan and, therefore, are included in the list of control actions.

6.2.1 Seizure and detention

Legislation SFCA 25; FDA 23 (1)(d)
Who Persons designated as inspectors for the SFCA and FDA under section 13(3) the CFIA Act
What

SFCA: The inspector may seize anything they have reasonable grounds to believe:

  • (a) was used in the contravention of any provision of this Act or the regulations;
  • (b) is something in relation to which a provision of this Act or the regulations was contravened; or
  • (c) was obtained by the contravention of a provision of this Act or the regulations.

FDA: The inspector may seize any article by means of or in relation to which the inspector believes on reasonable grounds any provision of the FDA or the regulations has been contravened.

In both cases, this could include a food product or any other thing used in the manufacture, preparation, preservation, packaging or storage of a food subject to a provision of the Act or regulations.

When Seizure and detention of a thing is generally appropriate when there has been a contravention of a regulation associated with the thing.
Considerations

When faced with non-compliance, the following factors could indicate to an inspector that seizure and detention should be considered:

  • the non-compliance is likely to pose a health and safety risk or is likely to have an adverse impact on consumer protection (product efficacy, quality or truthful representation of the product in the marketplace)

and

  • the inspector believes one of the following:
    1. the regulated party is unlikely to correct the non-compliance
    2. the regulated party is unlikely to maintain adequate control of the thing in a manner that would mitigate non-compliance or risk
    3. if the thing is not seized, an ongoing risk to the public may result

For example, seizure and detention may be particularly useful to control unsafe food, if necessary. It may also be useful for controlling a food animal carcass or its associated parts that has been condemned by a veterinarian inspector or inspector under their supervision when there is reason to believe that condemned material may be or has been directed to the edible food chain.

An article seized under the authority of FDA can be detained for such a time as may be necessary. There is no limit specified for the detention of a thing seized under the authority of SFCA. However, detention of a thing seized under either Act should be justifiably and reasonably necessary such as until any of the following occur:

  • the inspector determines that the detained product meets the requirements of the applicable Act and Regulations
  • a court ruling is issued if proceedings were instituted before the end of the detention period
  • the thing is willingly forfeited, destroyed, or no longer subject to the SFCA or FDA

Seizure is not to be confused with ordering that a thing not be moved while an inspection is being conducted to determine compliance as authorized by SFCA 24(2)(d).

Operational Guidance Operational procedure - Procedure for seizure and detention, authorizing movement and disposition

6.2.2 Ordering disposal of a thing seized and detained

Legislation SFCA 29(c); FDA 25(c)
Who Persons designated as inspectors for the SFCA and FDA under section 13(3) of the CFIA Act
What An inspector may dispose or order the disposal of a thing that has been seized.
When If the thing is perishable or if the inspector is of the opinion that the thing presents a risk of injury to human health and that its disposal is necessary to respond to the risk.
Considerations

Disposal of a thing may be appropriate when the thing is a food commodity which presents a risk that cannot be controlled by a treatment to eliminate or reduce the hazard.

Notice must be given to the owner or person in possession.

The expense of disposal is paid for by the owner or person in possession.

Operational Guidance Operational procedure - Procedure for seizure and detention, authorizing movement and disposition

6.2.3 Ordering the movement or storage of a thing seized and detained

Legislation SFCA 29(a) and 29(b); FDA 25(a) and 25(b)
Who Persons designated as inspectors for the SFCA and FDA under section 13(3) of the CFIA Act
What An inspector may move or store a thing seized or order that it be moved or stored.
When When necessary
Considerations

When a thing is being seized, an inspector should take measures to ensure the location and storage conditions are appropriate for the thing. Whenever necessary, the inspector should consider ordering the thing be moved to a more appropriate storage location.

The owner or person in possession, care or control must be notified.

The expense of movement and storage is paid for by the owner or person having possession, care or control of it at the time of seizure who is ordered to store it or move it or to whom the notice is given.

Operational Guidance Operational procedure - Procedure for seizure and detention, authorizing movement and disposition

6.2.4 Ordering removal or destruction of imported products

Legislation SFCA 32(1); FDA 27.2.(1)
Who Persons designated as inspectors for the SFCA and FDA under section 13(3) of the CFIA Act
What

SFCA: An inspector may order the removal of an imported food commodity from Canada or, if removal is not possible, an inspector may order that the food commodity be destroyed.

FDA: An inspector may order the removal of an imported food from Canada or, if removal is not possible, an inspector may order that the food be destroyed.

When

When an inspector has reasonable grounds to believe that the imported food (FDA) or food commodity (SFCA):

  1. does not meet the requirements of the regulations, or
  2. was imported in contravention of a provision of the SFCA , FDA or their regulations.
Considerations

Applies whether the food or food commodity was seized or not.

Notice must be given to the owner, importer, or person having possession care or control of the imported food or food commodity.

The expense of removal or destruction is paid for by the person to whom notice is given.

If the conditions of SFCR 18(1) are met, then the food is considered to have met the requirements of the regulations and this option should not be applied.

If removal or destruction is not carried out within the allowed time frame, the imported food or food commodity is forfeited. Refer to section 6.2.6 Forfeiture of a thing (automatic, by consent or by Minister's election).

Operational Guidance Operational procedure – Ordering removal or destruction of unlawful imports

6.2.5 Recall order

Legislation CFIA Act: ss. 19(1)
Who The designated authority is the Minister of Health.
What An order to the person selling, marketing or distributing the product notifying them that the product has been recalled and/or must be sent to a place designated by the Minister
When

Mandatory recall of a food commodity is appropriate when both of the following occur:

  • the Minister believes on reasonable grounds that a regulated product poses a risk to public, animal or plant health
  • the person responsible is unable or unwilling to voluntarily remove a product from the marketplace
Considerations Most recalls in Canada are "voluntary", which means that the recalls are initiated and carried out by the manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer responsible. The CFIA works with regulated parties to ensure the effectiveness of the recall.
Operational Guidance Operational guideline – Food incident response process

6.2.6 Forfeiture of a thing (automatic, by consent or by Minister's election)

Legislation FDA 26.1; FDA 27; FDA 27.2 (3); SFCA 32(3); SFCA 34
Who

The Minister of Health

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

The Review Tribunal of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act

A convicting court

A provincial superior court judge (upon application by an inspector)

What The forfeiture of a food commodity or thing as prescribed by the specific provision of the Act that authorizes the forfeiture to Her Majesty in right of Canada
When

The timeframes and conditions associated with forfeiture vary depending on the specific provision authorizing the forfeiture.

  • An imported food commodity is forfeited if it is not removed or destroyed within the specified time period or within 90 days after being notified that removal or destruction was required [SFCA 32(3)]. However, there are conditions under which an inspector may suspend or cancel the application of the forfeiture.
  • If the Minister chooses, a thing seized is forfeited 60 days after the seizure if the owner or person entitled to possess it is not identified [SFCA 34(1)(a)]. This provision does not apply if proceedings are instituted for a violation or an offence that relates to the seized thing.
  • If the Minister chooses, a thing seized is forfeited if it is not claimed within 60 days after notification that it has been released by an inspector. This provision does not apply if proceedings are instituted for a violation or an offence that relates to the seized thing.
  • The Tribunal or convicting court may order a thing related to a violation or offence be forfeited, if the Tribunal decides that a person has committed a violation or a person is convicted of an offence under the Act.
  • If an inspector makes an application, a provincial superior court judge may order the forfeiture of a thing seized.

The Minister may direct the disposal of a thing that has been forfeited.

The owner or person having possession, care or control of the thing at the time of its seizure (if seized) is responsible for the expenses associated with disposal of the thing that has been forfeited.

Considerations

In addition to forfeitures by the Minister's election, Tribunal or court, the owner of a thing may also voluntarily consent to forfeit a thing seized [see SFCA 35]. In the case of FDA 27(1), the owner or the person having possession, care or control of the article at the time of its seizure may voluntarily consent to its forfeiture.

Because forfeiture is only authorized under specific circumstances involving decisions by the Minister, Tribunal or Court, inspectors are strongly encouraged to always consult their supervisor prior to carrying out any activities associated with forfeiture.

Operational Guidance There is no additional guidance on performing the activities associated with forfeiture. Case-by-case consultation and collaboration is always required to determine when and how to apply this action as a control measure.

6.2.7 Ordering that an item be moved or not be moved

Legislation SFCA 24(2)(d)
Who Persons designated as inspectors for the SFCA under section 13(3) the CFIA Act
What An order to a person to move, not move or restrict the movement of an item to which the SFCA applies
When

This inspection power is authorized for a purpose related to verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance to SFCA or SFCR when an inspector is in a place where they have reasonable grounds to believe that an activity regulated under the SFCA is conducted or an item regulated by the Act is located. The action is an inspection power that enables the inspector to control risks and is not considered as an enforcement response to non-compliance.

This action is not to be confused with seizure and detention which is only authorized when the inspector believes the item is, was used in, or was obtained in contravention to the Act or a provision of the regulations.

Considerations

This is an inspection power that may be used at the inspector's discretion anytime the requirements of SFCA 24(1) and SFCA 24(2) (d) are met. For example, this power could be used to prevent the movement of a food product while awaiting the result of a laboratory analysis required to determine compliance. Ordering that that thing be moved or not be moved may also be useful for controlling the movement of condemned food animal carcasses and their associated parts to prevent further non-compliance.

Although it is sufficient to issue the order verbally, it is recommended that the inspector record that the order was issued in a document provided to the regulated party. This optional written notification may be of most benefit when there is delay between issuing the order and lifting the order due to the time required to complete the inspection (for example, if it takes several days for a laboratory analysis to be completed).

Operational Guidance There is no additional guidance on ordering that an item be moved or not be moved. This is an inspector power that can be used at the inspector's discretion anytime the requirements of SFCA 24(1) and SFCA 24(2) (d) are met.

6.2.8 Ordering the start or stop of an activity

Legislation SFCA 24(2)(i)
Who Persons designated as inspectors for the SFCA under section 13(3) the CFIA Act
What An order to a person to start or stop an activity
When This inspection power is authorized when an inspector is in a place where they have reasonable grounds to believe that an activity regulated by the SFCA is taking place or an item regulated by the Act is located. This action is authorized for purposes related to verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance with SFCA or SFCR. This action is an inspection power that enables the inspector to control risks and is not considered as an enforcement response to non-compliance.
Considerations

This is an inspection power that may be used at the inspectors discretion anytime the requirements of SFCA 24(1) and SFCA 24(2)(i) are met. For example, this power could be used to stop a slaughter or canning operation to perform inspection activities or prevent a non-compliance for occurring while the inspector is onsite. The inspector may benefit from using this power when an activity must be stopped to allow access for an inspection. Such as when:

  • the inspection cannot be effectively conducted while the activity is ongoing
  • whether there is a safety issue for the inspector or other persons present or not, the activity must be stopped to enable the inspection to be carried out

It may also be applied at the inspectors discretion if, by stopping the activity, the inspector recognizes that non-compliance could be stopped or prevented.

This power is not intended for stopping an activity beyond the immediate time needed to verify or prevent non-compliance. Once non-compliance is detected, if the inspector is of the opinion that the activity cannot be resumed due to the inability of the regulated party to take effective corrective measures, enforcement responses such as licence suspension could be considered.

Although it is sufficient to issue the order verbally, it is recommended that the inspector document that the order was issued in an inspection report or other document provided to the regulated party after the conclusion of the inspection activity.

Operational Guidance There is no additional guidance on ordering the start or stop of an activity. This is an inspector power that can be used at the inspector's discretion anytime the requirements of SFCA 24(1) and SFCA 24(2)(i) are met.

6.2.9 Adding conditions to a licence or registration to control a risk

Legislation SFCA 20(3) and 20(4)
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Health

The authority has been delegated to: Director of Operations and Director, Centre of Administration

What Conditions are added to a licence or registration and must be met by the licence holder
When Whenever the Minister (Minister's delegate) believes the condition is appropriate
Considerations For example, this action may be appropriate in specific cases where the additional condition is required to prevent risk to human, plant or animal health or trade.
Operational Guidance There is no additional guidance on adding conditions to a licence or registration to control a risk. This option may be applied at the discretion of the designated authority responsible for issuing a licence or registration.

6.2.10 Cancelling or refusing to issue a certificate or other document

Legislation SFCA 48; SFCR 17(1), 17(2) and 17(5)
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Health
The authority has been delegated to: Persons designated as inspectors and veterinary inspectors for the SFCA under section 13(3) the CFIA Act

What Export certificate
When Whenever the conditions for issuance are not met
Considerations The SFCA and SFCR do not specifically identify the authority to refuse or cancel a certificate or other similar document. However, SFCR does describe the conditions for issuance of a certificate. When those conditions are not met, the CFIA inspector or veterinary inspector does not have the authority to issue the certificate. Issuing a certificate when not authorized would be contrary to the CFIA Code of conduct.
Operational Guidance

Operational procedure - Procedure to issue a food export certificate (by commodity) (under development)

Operational procedure - Procedure for replacing and cancelling a food export certificate (under development)

6.3 Available enforcement actions

As described in the Standard regulatory response process, when non-compliance is identified through inspection, there is a broad range of enforcement actions available to the CFIA. In a consistent, graduated approach, one or more of the actions outlined in this section may be taken in response to non-compliance, depending on the circumstances. The enforcement actions available in response to non-compliance with the SFCA, SFCR, FDA or the FDR include:

Only individuals authorized by the legislation may make decisions concerning a specific enforcement response. However, individuals in various roles contribute to the enforcement response by:

  • using designated powers and making inspection decisions (for example; inspectors)
  • providing support and advice (for example; supervisors, commodity specialists)
  • providing specialised services to carry out certain enforcement functions (for example; Enforcement and Investigation Services (EIS) investigation specialists)

6.3.1 Letter of non-compliance

Legislation This letter is not specified in legislation. It is an administrative enforcement action.
Who It is recommended that the inspection supervisor or inspection manager sign the letter. However, since this is an administrative enforcement action, alternatives are possible.
What A documented notice to the non-compliant party that acknowledges a contravention of the relevant Act or regulation has occurred
When Since the letter of non-compliance is an administrative enforcement action, there are no specific requirements for when it can be issued. It can be issued on its own or along with an inspection report or a request for a meeting with a regulated party. However, it should not be issued when more stringent enforcement actions such as suspension/cancellation, AMPs or prosecution are already being considered.
Considerations

It may be appropriate in situations such as where:

  • the non-compliance has not resulted, or is not likely to result, in serious or very serious harm (such as health or safety risks, or marketplace deception)
  • the information on the history and intent of the non-compliance indicate that it was not deliberate
  • the inspector believes that a letter of non-compliance will have the appropriate deterrent effect and will compel the regulated party to correct any outstanding non-compliances
  • the RP has an otherwise good compliance history
Operational Guidance Issuing a letter of non-compliance

6.3.2 Meeting with the regulated party

Legislation Meeting with the regulated party is not specified in legislation. It is an administrative enforcement action.
Who Regional management may initiate or take part in such a meeting, as per area operational procedures.
What A formal meeting initiated by CFIA officials to discuss issues of non-compliance with the regulated party
When A meeting with a regulated party may be appropriate in instances where a regulated party has resisted taking corrective actions to address non-compliance, if previous enforcement action(s) have not been effective (for example; letter of non-compliance), or if CFIA staff deem the meeting appropriate in light of the circumstances surrounding the non-compliance (for example; severity, intent). In the enforcement continuum, this meeting generally occurs following a letter of non-compliance and prior to initiating more stringent enforcement actions.
Considerations

This action is considered more formal than the regular / occasional discussions between inspection staff and regulated parties. This action should be documented by CFIA and should result in a clear commitment from the regulated party to correct the non-compliance.

This meeting should not be confused with the requirement for an opportunity to be heard that is required prior to cancellation of a licence.

Operational Guidance Conducting a meeting with a regulated party

6.3.3 Licence suspension

Legislation SFCA 22, SFCR 35, 36, 37, and 38
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Health

The authority for SFCA 22 and SFCR 35, 36 and 38 has been delegated to: Director of Operations and Director, Centre of Administration

The authority for SFCR 37 has been delegated to: Director of Operations and Senior Director

What A licence issued under SFCA 20(1) may be suspended by the Minister (Minister's delegate).
When

Grounds for suspension are the following:

  • the licence holder does not comply with any provision of the SFCA, other than section 15, or with any provision of the SFCR, the FDA or the FDR
  • the licence holder is in default of payment of any fee related to the licence that is set out in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice
  • the Minister (Minister's delegate) is of the opinion that a risk of injury to human health may result if the licence holder continues to conduct an activity that is identified in the licence.

Suspension is not an option when the licence holder was in violation of SFCA 15 (false or misleading statements or information) which is grounds for cancellation.

A licence may be suspended when a licence holder, having been issued an inspection report identifying the grounds for suspension and a date by which corrective action must be taken, fails to fails to take corrective action by that date. However, if the Minister (Minister's delegate) is of the opinion that a risk of injury to human health may result if the licence holder continues to conduct an activity that is identified in the licence, the Minister (Minister's delegate) may suspend the licence immediately after the licence holder is provided with an inspection report and without providing additional time to allow for corrective actions.

Considerations

Suspension may be most appropriate when a letter of non-compliance or meeting with the regulated party has not been effective and the conditions for cancellation have not been met. Although preferable, it is not essential that these alternative enforcement actions be taken prior to suspension. It is important to note that as long as the grounds for suspension are met, the speed of escalation along the enforcement continuum can be adjusted to align with the harm, history and intent of the specific case.

To carry out a suspension, the Minister (Minister's delegate) must notify the licence holder in writing of the suspension and date on which it takes effect or, in the case of a suspension under SFCR 37(1), that it takes effect immediately.

The suspension must be lifted when the Minister (Minister's delegate) determines that corrective actions have been taken.

During a suspension, the licence holder may not conduct any activity for which the licence was issued and has been suspended. The licence holder may continue to conduct any activity that it would be permitted to perform without a licence. If more than one physical location for conducting activities has been indicated on the licence, the licence holder may not conduct activities for which the licence was issued in any of the locations listed on the suspended licence.

This action is separate from the suspension of a post-mortem examination program or post-mortem defect management program authorization which is described in section 6.3.5.

Operational Guidance Operational procedures – Procedures for suspending and reinstating a food licence

6.3.4 Licence cancellation

Legislation SFCA 22; SFCR 39 and 40
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Health

The authority has been delegated to: Director of Operations and Director, Centre of Administration

What A licence issued under SFCA 20(1) may be cancelled by the Minister.
When

Grounds for cancellation include any of the following:

  • the licence holder fails to take corrective action within 90 days after the day on which the licence was suspended, unless a longer period is granted by the Minister (Minister's delegate) at the written request of the licence holder
  • the licence holder continues to conduct an activity that is identified in their licence while the licence is suspended
  • the licence holder or any of their directors or officers is convicted of an offence under the SFCA or the FDA
  • the licence holder does not comply with any provision of SFCA, other than section 15, or with any provision of the SFCR, the FDA or the FDR and, since its issuance or renewal, the licence(i) has already been suspended for non-compliance with that provision, or(ii) has already been suspended twice
  • the licence holder was not in compliance with section 15 of the SFCA at the time of their application for the issuance, renewal or amendment of the licence or at any time during the period of validity of the licence
Considerations

Graduated escalation and correlation to harm, history and intent are built in to the grounds for cancelation under SFCR. Therefore, when these grounds are met, the regulated party has generally already had opportunities to come into compliance under alternative enforcement actions. Cancellation should be carried out whenever the grounds are met.

Prior to cancelation, the licenced holder must be notified in writing by the Minister (Minister's delegate) of the grounds for the cancellation and be provided with an opportunity to be heard in respect of the cancellation.

To carry out the cancellation, the Minister (Minister's delegate) must notify the licence holder in writing of the cancellation and the date on which it takes effect.

Once cancellation occurs, the regulated party needs to re-apply as a new applicant for a licence should they wish to resume the prescribed activity. In those circumstances, the applicant's preventive control plan would need to demonstrate measures to address any outstanding non-compliances or concerns that led to the cancellation. A technical review of the application prior to issuance is required.

Operational Guidance Operational procedures – Procedures for cancellation of a food licence

6.3.5 Suspension of a post-mortem examination program authorization or a post-mortem defect management program authorization

Legislation SFCR 161, 162, 163 and 164
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Health

The authority has been delegated to: Director of Operations and Senior Director

What The Minister may suspend a licence holder's authorization to conduct a post-mortem examination program or a post-mortem defect management program (issued under SFCR 160).
When

Grounds for suspension of these authorizations include any of the following:

  • the licence holder does not comply with their post-mortem examination program or post-mortem defect management program
  • the licence holder does not comply with any provision of the SFCA or SFCR
  • the Minister (Minister's delegate) is of the opinion that a risk of injury to human health may result if the licence holder continues to conduct the program

A post-mortem examination program authorization or a post-mortem defect management program may be suspended when a licence holder, having been issued an inspection report identifying the grounds for suspension and a date by which the corrective action must be taken, fails to take the corrective action by that date. However, if the Minister (Minister's delegate) is of the opinion that a risk of injury to human health may result if the licence holder continues to conduct the post-mortem examination program or post-mortem defect management program, the Minister (Minister's delegate) may suspend the authorization immediately after the licence holder is provided with an inspection report and without providing additional time to allow for corrective actions.

Considerations

To carry out the suspension, the Minister (Minister's delegate) must notify the licence holder in writing of the suspension of the authorization and date on which it takes effect or, in the case of a suspension under SFCR 163(1), that it takes effect immediately.

The suspension must be lifted when the Minister (Minister's delegate) determines that corrective actions have been taken.

The suspension of an authorization to conduct a post-mortem examination program or a post-mortem defect management program is separate from the suspension of a licence to operate. When a post-mortem examination program authorization or a post-mortem defect management authorization is suspended, the licence holder's licence to operate is still valid unless there are also grounds to suspend the licence itself. If such grounds are suspected, section 6.3.3 Licence suspension should also be consulted.

Operational Guidance Operational procedure – Procedure for suspending and lifting the suspension of an authorization to conduct a post-mortem program

6.3.6 Refusal to issue accreditation of an organic certification body

Legislation SFCR 362 and 363
Who

The conformity verification body may refuse to recommend an applicant's accreditation.

If the applicant requests a review of the decision to refuse the accreditation, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food must decide to confirm or not the decision of the conformity verification body.

This authority has been delegated to: Director, Food Import and Export Division

What Refusal to issue an accreditation under SFCR 361
When

An organic certification body is refused accreditation when:

  • a conformity verification body refuses to recommend an applicant's accreditation and the applicant does not request a review by the Minister in the 30 days following the day they received the notice
  • A review of the refusal by a conformity verification body is conducted by the Minister and confirms the decision
Considerations Any considerations for deciding to refuse to recommend an applicant's accreditation are determined by the conformity verification body. If the decision is reviewed by the Minister, on request by the applicant, the Minister decides to confirm or not the decision of the conformity verification body.
Operational Guidance There is no operational guidance because this activity is not conducted by the inspectorate. Oversight resides with Policy and Programs Branch. This content is included for information only.

6.3.7 Suspension of an organic certification body's accreditation

Legislation SFCR 364
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food on recommendation by a conformity verification body.

The authority has been delegated to: Director, Food Import and Export Division

What Suspension of the accreditation of a certification body issued under SFCR 361
When

The Minister (Minister's delegate) must suspend a certification body's accreditation when recommended by a conformity verification body and the certifying body has not complied with any provision of the SFCA, Part 13 of SFCR or ISO/IEC 17065.

Suspension must not occur unless both of the following conditions were met:

  • the certification body was provided with a report that sets out the grounds for the suspension and the period within which corrective action must be taken in order to avoid the suspension
  • the certification body failed to take corrective action within that period or, within any period of time authorized by the conformity verification body if an extension was granted
Considerations

Suspension must not be considered for non-compliance with SFCA 15 (false or misleading statements or information) because this non-compliance is grounds for cancelation of the accreditation. Any further considerations for deciding if suspension is warranted are determined by the conformity verification body.

To carry out the suspension, the Minister (Minister's delegate) must notify the certification body in writing of the suspension and the date on which it takes effect.

A suspension of an accreditation remains in effect until the Minister determines, on recommendation of the conformity verification body, that corrective action has been taken.

Operational Guidance There is no operational guidance because this activity is not conducted by the inspectorate. Oversight resides with Policy and Programs Branch. This content is included for information only.

6.3.8 Cancellation of an organic certification body's accreditation

Legislation SFCR 365
Who

The designated authority is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food on recommendation by a conformity verification body.

The authority has been delegated to: Director, Food Import and Export Division

What Cancelation of the accreditation of a certification body issued under SFCR 361
When

On the recommendation of a conformity verification body, the Minister (Minister's delegate) must cancel an accreditation if the certification body does any of the following:

  • fails to take corrective action within 30 days after the day on which the accreditation was suspended
  • was not in compliance with section 15 of the SFCA at the time of the application for the accreditation or any time during the period of validity of the accreditation
  • continues, while their accreditation is suspended, to accept applications for certification, to make determinations under SFCR 345(1) or 348(1), to suspend certifications under SFCR 349(1) or to cancel certifications under SFCR 350(1)
Considerations

Prior to cancelation, the certification body must be notified in writing of the grounds for the cancellation and be provided with an opportunity to be heard in respect of the cancellation.

To carry out the cancellation, the Minister (Minister's delegate) must notify the certification body in writing of the cancellation and the date on which it takes effect.

Operational Guidance There is no operational guidance because this activity is not conducted by the inspectorate. Oversight resides with Policy and Programs Branch. This content is included of information only.

6.3.9 Notices of violation (administrative monetary penalties)

Legislation AAAMPA
Who The following CFIA staff may issue notices of violation for non-compliance with SFCA or SFCR: (to be determined)
What The AMPs Act and Regulations provide for the issuance of two types of Notices of violation to non-compliant parties: a Notice of Violation (NOV) with warning and a Notice of Violation with penalty. These documents can be colloquially referred to as an "AMPs warning" and an "AMPs penalty."
When

Notices of violation may be issued for violations of the SFCA or SFCR that are identified in Schedule 1 to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations.

Notices of violation are not available for violations of the FDA or FDR.

Considerations

Considerations for issuing an NOV include:

  • which person should be issued the NOV (an actual person, a legal entity or both)
  • whether to issue a NOV with or without a penalty
  • when a NOV may not be appropriate and an alternative enforcement response such as a prosecution should be considered
Operational Guidance (Guidance under development)

6.3.10 Prosecution

Legislation SFCA 39 ; FDA 31.1
Who The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) has the responsibility for all prosecutions relating to the Acts administered by the CFIA.
What The prosecution of a person alleged to have contravened the relevant Act or regulation
When

The CFIA may recommend prosecution to PPSC where non-compliance has resulted in situations involving , but not limited to, the following:

  • death of, or injury to, a person and the evidence indicates that the death or injury was directly attributed to failure to comply with legislation enforced by CFIA
  • wilful, reckless, or negligent actions of the regulated party that pose a health and safety risk to humans, animals or plants
  • wilful, reckless, or negligent actions of the regulated party that mislead the consumer, misrepresent the product or constitute marketplace deception
  • the prohibited sale of a product
  • the forging of, altering or tampering with an inspection certificate, permits, report of analysis or other official CFIA document
  • the obstruction of or interference with an inspector carrying out activities under legislation enforced by CFIA
  • the movement of or interference with anything seized and detained without having received prior permission from an inspector
  • refusal to comply with a recall order
  • a conviction for a previous, similar offence
  • based on past history of non-compliance, other enforcement actions have not had, or are not likely to have, the appropriate deterrent effect and more severe action is warranted
Considerations Where recommending prosecution is deemed appropriate by the CFIA, Area EIS prepares and forwards briefs of evidence to the appropriate office of the PPSC with the recommendation that charges be laid. It is clearly recognized that the discretion to initiate a prosecution rests with the PPSC.
Operational Guidance

No guidance for inspectors.

Preparing Briefs of Evidence - for EIS specialists (to be developed)

For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF).

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