Incoming ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals

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.

Introduction

The incoming ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals introduced into your establishment can be a source of contamination to your food. The composition of ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals can present a risk of contamination of a food. Furthermore, the conditions under which food ingredients are handled, manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged, labelled and transported before you receive them can also result in their contamination. It is important that these biological, chemical and physical hazards that present a risk of contamination to your food are identified during the hazard analysis and that control measures are put in place to prevent or reduce them.

The control measures should provide assurance that:

  • incoming ingredients (such as food, additives) were manufactured, prepared, treated, preserved, stored, packaged, labelled, and transported under clean and sanitary conditions, and are safe, fit for consumption and suitable for use
  • non-food chemicals such as water-treatment chemicals, boiler-treatment chemicals, chemicals for cleaning and sanitizing are suitable for use
  • materials, including packaging, construction and label materials , are free of noxious substances, safe and suitable for use

Purpose

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) created this document as guidance to help regulated parties comply with the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

It's your choice

You may use other guidance developed by provincial governments, industry associations, international partners or academic bodies as long as they can achieve the outcomes identified in the regulations. Always ensure that the guidance you choose is relevant for your particular business, product or products, and market requirements.

What's included

The document outlines preventive controls that can be used to ensure that:

  • the ingredients received:
    • are safe, suitable for the intended use and permitted for use
    • were transported under clean and sanitary conditions, protected from contamination, physical damage and temperature abuse
  • the materials received are safe and suitable for use
  • the non-food chemicals are suitable for use

Refer to the Tell me more! section for other useful references related to the hazards and preventive measures for incoming ingredients and materials.

What's not included

While the document provides examples of control measures, it is not exhaustive–the hazards from incoming ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals vary and the control measures used to prevent the risk of contamination to a food will be unique for each business.

This document does not address the various control measures suppliers should have in place to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards and ensure the products they supply are safe and suitable for use.

Roles and responsibilities

Food businesses are responsible for complying with the law. They demonstrate compliance by ensuring that the commodities and processes for which they are responsible meet regulatory requirements. If a written Preventive Control Plan (PCP) is required, the food business develops a PCP with supporting documents, monitors and maintains evidence of its implementation, and verifies that all control measures are effective.

CFIA verifies the compliance of a food business by conducting activities that include inspection, and surveillance. When non-compliance is identified, the CFIA takes appropriate compliance and enforcement actions.

Preventive control measures for incoming ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals

Implementing control measures specific to the sourcing, receiving and storing of ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals helps ensure they are safe and suitable before their use. These control measures help protect your food from contamination.

1. Sourcing

Consider the following to help ensure that you source ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals that are safe and suitable for use. For example:

  • Provide the regulatory, functional and technical product requirements to your suppliers. Inform them of:
  • Develop a Supplier food safety assurance program
    • Source ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals from a supplier with whom you have a supplier agreement.
  • Source food ingredients from a supplier that:
    • holds a license to manufacture, process, treat, preserve, package, label and grade food or a person who holds a SFCR license to import food
      • obtain documentation confirming the status of their licence
    • operates under a HACCP-based system certified or recognized under a food safety program such as Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) or other certifying body such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
    • is subject to third party audits and can provide audit reports
    • can demonstrate the safety of their food products or inputs through laboratory testing (by laboratories accredited by Standards Council of Canada (SCC) using acceptable test methodology)
    • can provide records demonstrating a history of providing safe ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals suitable for use by Canadian food businesses
  • Create a list of approved suppliers
  • As applicable, obtain and review the following
    • Specifications for:
      • the ingredients - for example, details on composition, storage conditions, shelf-life, extraneous matter, physico-chemical properties such as pH, aw
      • packaging materials - for example, details on chemical migration, physical dimensions, material specifications and performance specifications and recommendations for storage
      • non-food chemicals - for example, details on conditions of use including what it can be used on, the concentration for use (dilution with water), temperature of use, duration of application, rinsing , and recommendations for storing
    • Letters of no objection from Health Canada, or other references from Health Canada on the safety, suitability or acceptability for use
      Note: Additional information can be found in Health Canada's Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemical Products Database.
    • Certificates of analysis
      • signed and dated by the person certifying that the results are valid
      • providing the name and address of the supplier
      • identifying who (which lab) performed the tests
      • describing the product analyzed
      • outlining the tests conducted and the results obtained
    • A letter of guarantee that the product is safe, suitable for use and meets your specifications. The letter should contain the following information:
      • name of the supplier
      • date of issuance
      • description of the product
      • brand name or code number
      • a statement that the packaging material is food grade and complies with Division 23 of the Food and Drug Regulations, the additive is permitted for use under the FDR, the food ingredient is safe orthe non-food chemical is safe and suitable for the intended use
      • signature of the supplier

2. Receiving step

The following control measures can provide assurance that the ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals you receive are safe and suitable for use:

  • Inspect the condition of the conveyance, in which the ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals are transported to ensure that it's clean and sanitary and provides protection from physical damage and temperature abuse. Verify that:
    • there is no odour, obvious dirt, debris, chemical contamination from fluids, powders or chemical residues that could have contaminated the ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals
    • the temperature and humidity levels are adequate
    • temperature measuring devices worked properly during transportation, as applicable
    • the conveyance has close-fitting doors with no spaces at the sides or bottom, no cracks and that the insulation is in good condition
  • Verify that the ingredients, packaging materials and non-food chemicals being unloaded:
    • are from a supplier you have approved
    • are on your list of products approved for that supplier
    • match the purchase order and specifications
    • are properly labelled and identified
    • are in suitable containers that protect them from contamination and damage
    • are in packages that are not damaged or opened and show no signs of tampering or contamination
  • Verify that the ingredients are at the proper temperature to prevent their contamination, deterioration and spoilage.
  • Sample and test the food ingredients received to verify that they are safe and fit for use in food and comply with other aspects of your specifications.
    • Establish the tests to be conducted and frequency of testing as part of sampling procedures for incoming ingredients.
  • Reject ingredients that would not be rendered safe and suitable for use through normal sorting and/or processing. For example, reject ingredients containing abnormal levels of dirt or fecal matter or that show signs of infestation, oxidation or decomposition.

To prevent the contamination of your food by the incoming ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals, have an area dedicated for deliveries that is separated from your processing area.

3. Storage

To help prevent the contamination of your food during storage:

  • remove the outer packaging before food enters the storage areas
  • assign different storage areas for different products
    • store raw food ingredients separately from cooked and ready-to-eat food ingredients
    • store non-food chemicals and equipment in designated areas, away from raw ingredients
  • identify rejected ingredients, materials or non-food chemicals and hold them in a separate area until they can be returned to the supplier, discarded or destroyed, as appropriate
  • store ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals under proper temperature and humidity conditions as specified by the supplier

The document Preventing cross-contamination provides additional information that can help you prevent cross-contamination during storage.

Tell me more! Further reading

The following references contain information that helps explain food safety controls, demonstrates how to develop them, and provides examples. CFIA is not responsible for the content of documents that are created by other government agencies or international sources.

CFIA references

Other references

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