USA – Foreign Supplier Verification Program

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the United States (U.S.) started graduated enforcement of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) in May 2017. FSVP requires U.S. importers to verify that food imported into the United States has been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. safety standards.

To read more about U.S. FSVP rule, please visit the Final Rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals web page.

What does this mean for U.S. importers of Canadian food?

The FSVP requires U.S. importers of foods regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) to provide evidence that the food they receive from foreign suppliers is manufactured under acceptable food safety controls.

Canada and the U.S. have a Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement (FSSRA). The FSVP provides modified requirements to U.S. importers when they import food that is covered under the FSSRA from Canadian manufacturers that are in good regulatory standing with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The FSSRA applies to foods regulated by the US FDA including:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • shelled eggs
  • dairy (except "Grade A" milk and milk products)
  • fish (except farmed catfish, catfish products and molluscan shellfish)
  • maple
  • honey
  • processed products; and
  • manufactured foods

Note: The FSVP requirements excludes food that is intended for further manufacturing and processing by a U.S. processor operating in compliance with FSMA requirements.

What does this mean for the Canadian food industry?

Canadian food manufacturers who process food for export will require a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). When the SFCR comes into force, the CFIA will publish a listing of SFCR licensed food manufacturers as the method to certify that they are operating in good regulatory standing as long as they comply with SFCR requirements. To be considered to be operating in good regulatory standing under the SFCR, the federally licensed establishments will need to operate with an acceptable Preventive Control Plan (PCP) and maintain acceptable traceability documents in order to be placed on the listing of SFCR licensed food manufacturers.

Canadian food businesses that maintain a status of good regulatory compliance with the SFCR requirements will also meet the FSVP requirements related to food safety controls. The U.S. importer will be able to use the list of Canadian food manufactures that are licensed under the SFCR to meet the modified FSVP requirements.

Please note that the requirements set out by the SFCR will be effective when the regulations come into force. Please refer to the tools, resources and guidance materials to familiarize yourself with the regulations so you can plan ahead and even start implementing them in your business processes.

To access online services such as obtaining your licence, enrol with My CFIA and create a profile for your business. Businesses do not need to apply for an SFCR licence at this time, but as the transition to the new regulations takes place, you will be able to apply for the new licence online or access information about the licence and regulations through your My CFIA account.

Canadian food businesses that are currently federally registered and/or licensed with the CFIA

If you operate an establishment that is currently registered with the CFIA, you will need to have an acceptable Preventive Control Plan (PCP) and traceability documentation process in place in order to obtain a license when the SFCR comes into force. Your registration and the federally registered lists currently available may be used by U.S. importers to indicate your good standing until all food manufacturers are licensed and the new list of SFCR licence holders comes into effect.

If your business is already federally registered or licensed at the time that the SFCR comes into force, you can maintain your exporting activities while you make the necessary changes to transition to the SFCR licensing system.

Canadian food businesses that are not currently federally registered

Please note that businesses in certain food sectors (manufactured foods, non-federally registered sector, etc.), which have traditionally not required federal registration and/or licensing, will need to be licensed in order to demonstrate that your company is in good regulatory standing. You will need to have an acceptable Preventive Control Plan (PCP) and traceability documentation process in place in order to obtain a licence when the SFCR comes into force.

Food businesses seeking to begin or continue exports to the U.S. will need to be licensed when the SFCR comes into force if they want to be on the Canadian list of licence holders in 'good standing' in order for US importers to apply the modified FSVP requirements.

The CFIA's role

The CFIA will maintain oversight over federally licensed establishments. This includes verifying that food businesses follow their PCP and product traceability process. The CFIA will also exchange information with the US FDA following notices of food safety concern regarding products from licensed Canadian food establishments (for example, port-of-entry violations and the corrective measures taken to protect consumers).

To support the modified FSVP requirements, the CFIA will maintain a list of federally licensed businesses considered in 'good standing' with Canadian regulatory requirements. This list will be accessible to the public and to foreign entities (US FDA, U.S. importers, etc.). The CFIA will add, amend, and remove Canadian food businesses as necessary.

To see the listings of federally registered / licensed establishments, please visit Export registers and lists.

In addition to these existing lists, please find the new Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry. The food businesses on this list are licensed under the SFCR and are considered to be in good standing with the CFIA. This list will be continuously updated as businesses enroll for their licenses throughout 2019.

Note: Trade in foods regulated by the US FDA may still proceed prior to the CFIA developing the list of licensed Canadian food businesses in "good standing." Canadian food businesses exporting to the U.S. will need to work with U.S. FSVP importers to meet FSVP requirements.

The CFIA encourages all Canadian food businesses exporting to the U.S. to prepare for the SFCR as it comes into force. Being federally licensed and listed with the CFIA will eliminate the burden of documentation for importers and exporters of US FDA regulated foods. Businesses do not need to apply for an SFCR licence at this time, but as the transition to the new regulations takes place, you will be able to apply for the new licence online or access information about the licence and regulations through your My CFIA account.

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