Language selection


2017-18 Departmental Plan
Raison d'être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Raison d'être

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is one of Canada's largest science-based regulatory agencies. It has approximately 6,555 employees working across Canada in the National Capital Region and in four operational areas: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and Western.

The CFIA is dedicated to safeguarding food safety and animal and plant health, which enhances Canada's environment, economy, and the health and well-being of its residents.

Mandate and role

The CFIA develops program requirements and delivers inspections and other services in order to:

  • prevent and manage food safety risks
  • protect plant resources from regulated pests, diseases and invasive species
  • prevent and manage animal and zoonotic diseases
  • contribute to consumer protection
  • contribute to market access for Canada's food, plants, animals and their products

The CFIA bases its activities on science, effective risk management, a commitment to service and efficiency, and collaboration with domestic and international organizations that share its objectives.


The CFIA administrates and enforces 13 federal statutes and 38 sets of regulations. These statues and regulations support a sustainable plant and animal resource base and regulate the safety and quality of food sold in Canada. In November 2012, the Safe Food for Canadians Act received Royal Assent. This legislation, when fully in force, will provide the necessary legal framework for a more consistent approach to strengthening food inspection in Canada. The Safe Food for Canadians Act consolidates and will replace the following Acts: the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

The Agricultural Growth Act received Royal Assent on February 25, 2015, and most of its provisions have already come into force. The Agricultural Growth Act modernized and strengthened federal agriculture legislation, supports innovation in the Canadian agriculture industry and enhances global market opportunities for Canadians. The Agricultural Growth Act updated the following suite of Acts that the CFIA uses to regulate Canada's agriculture sector: Plant Breeders' Rights Act, Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act, Seeds Act, Health of Animals Act, Plant Protection Act, and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act.

New CFIA authorities include the following:

  • modern inspection authorities so that inspectors have the right tools to do their job
  • revised and strengthened offence provisions, with more up-to-date fines and penalties
  • explicit authorization for export certification
  • regulatory authority to require licensing and/or registration
  • explicit authority to incorporate documents by reference
  • regulatory authority to require preventive control plans and quality management plans from manufacturers
  • document and record-keeping requirements

New authorities

With the passage of the Safe Food for Canadians Act in 2012, which is not yet fully in force, and the Agricultural Growth Act in 2015, the CFIA has new authorities to address new challenges and issues, and respond to new pressures, trends and science.

Date modified: