Backgrounder: Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

What it means for Canadians

Food safety is a top priority for the Government of Canada. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations would better protect Canadian families by putting a greater emphasis on preventing food safety risks for all foods imported into Canada or sold across provinces. The regulations would also apply to foods prepared for export.

The proposed regulations would require food businesses to have preventive controls in place to identify and manage food safety risks before products are sold to consumers. This would also reduce the time it takes to remove unsafe foods from the marketplace.

The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations would bring the Safe Food for Canadians Act into force, which was passed in 2012 with support from all political parties. The proposal consolidates 14 sets of existing regulations into one. Stronger rules, as well as new approaches to inspections, services and use of risk information to plan inspections, will strengthen the CFIA's ability to meet the needs of consumers and industry.

What it means for food businesses

Strong, flexible regulations that focus on prevention will go a long way in helping businesses uphold their reputation, keep customers healthy and loyal, and avoid costly recalls.

Strong preventive systems, such as traceability and food safety controls, would boost the competitiveness of Canadian food businesses across the supply chain, from farm to retail, at home and on the world stage.

Rules that focus on food safety outcomes would allow businesses to be more innovative. Rather than following prescribed methods and processes, businesses would have more flexibility to introduce new technologies, processes and procedures while still meeting the proposed food safety requirements.

We are committed to helping businesses understand and implement regulatory requirements. Information and guidance is available to explain key elements of the proposal and what would be expected. Videos, interactive tools, fact sheets, templates and a handbook are available at

Consultations on this initiative began in 2013. Based on feedback from small food business in 2015, we have identified ways to reduce regulatory burden while still improving safety for Canadians. For example, some regulatory requirements would be phased in gradually to allow more time for certain sectors to prepare and adapt.

What it means for trade

Major trading partners, such as the United States, the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand, are also adopting preventive and outcome-based systems. The proposed regulations are in line with approaches being taken by these key trading partners to better manage food safety risks.

Canada's trading partners would continue to have confidence in our food safety system because the proposed regulations are aligned with internationally-recognized standards.

Services to support businesses

Get started today with My CFIA and create one or more business profiles based on an enrolment model that suits your organization. Businesses do not need to apply for a SFCR license at this time, but as the transition to the new regulations takes place, you will be able to apply for the new license online or access information about the licence and regulations ‎through your My CFIA account.

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Join Canada's food safety conversation online using #SafeFoodCan.

Still have questions? Contact us.

Safe Food for Canadians - A retrospective on the development of the proposed regulations

  • Before 2012 - The CFIA consults stakeholders on the development of a new law.
  • 2012 - The Safe Food for Canadians Act is tabled in Parliament and passed with support from all political parties.
  • 2013 - The CFIA releases a new food regulatory framework and holds the inaugural Food Forum. This set the stage for the first round of consultation with various stakeholders on the regulatory framework that would lead to the development of the proposed regulations.
  • 2014 - The CFIA holds a second round of consultation with various stakeholders on the proposed regulatory framework.
  • 2015 - The CFIA consults micro and small food businesses to explore options for reducing regulatory burden. At the same time, the draft regulatory text is released to demonstrate progress to date.
  • 2016 - The CFIA incorporates feedback received to date to amend the regulatory text. Additional information and guidance is developed for industry.
  • 2017 - The CFIA pre-publishes the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for public consultation.
  • 2017 - The CFIA releases the What We Heard Report - The Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations Consultation.
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