Graduated enforcement of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations as of January 15, 2019

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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has a mandate to enforce Canada's food legislation. While food safety remains our highest priority, we recognize that the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) introduce a number of new requirements for food businesses as of January 15, 2019.

How will CFIA enforce the regulations?

To balance the need to protect Canada's food safety system while supporting food businesses in their efforts to comply with the new regulations, CFIA's enforcement approach will emphasize working with businesses to help them understand the new requirements.

Inspectors will inform food businesses where they can find the information to help them understand and comply with the regulations. CFIA has interactive tools and sector-specific timelines and other plain-language resources to help businesses determine which requirements apply to them and how to comply with them.

Will shipments of food being imported into Canada without a valid Safe Food for Canadians licence be stopped at the border?

At this time, safe and otherwise compliant shipments of imported food without a valid Safe Food for Canadians licence or pre-existing registration/licence number will not be rejected at the border. However, businesses requiring a licence are advised to apply for one as soon as possible in order to comply with regulations.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will conduct risk-based inspections to verify that imported food is safe and meets other requirements.

Will CFIA also take enforcement action in some cases?

Enforcement actions, where applicable, will be proportionate to the food safety risk and the seriousness of the non-compliance. Factors such as potential or actual harm, compliance history and intent will also be taken into consideration.

What type of action could be taken when there is no risk to food safety?

In cases where there is no immediate food safety concern and the business has demonstrated their intent to comply with the new requirements under the SFCR, CFIA may, for example:

  • issue letters of non-compliance or corrective action requests
  • where no licence has been issued and should have been requested, direct the business to CFIA website to request a licence and, if applicable, further develop or improve their preventive control plan (PCP). A follow-up inspection may be conducted to verify that requirements are being met.

What about in cases where there is a risk to food safety or a disregard for the regulations?

In all other cases, businesses may be subject to standard enforcement measures.

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