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Regulatory requirement: Trade (Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, Part 2)

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

On this page

1.0 Introduction

The following provides an overview of the regulatory requirements related to the import, export and inter-provincial trade of food, as found in Part 2 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). Part 2 establishes the prescribed food commodities and activities for which a person needs a licence and also sets rules around food traded internationally and inter-provincially. It also sets out general food safety requirements and specific requirements such as obtaining an export certificate.

Note that this guidance applies primarily to food traded for commercial purposes. If the food commodity being imported, exported or traded inter-provincially is for "personal use" in accordance with section 21 of the SFCR, then activities prohibited or required by the SFCA or SFCR do not apply.

2.0 Prescribing food commodities and activities that fall under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the SFCR

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Sections 5 to 7

Rationale

Sections 5 to 7 of the SFCR require that the import and sending or conveying of prescribed food and food commodities, as well the conduct of most activities in respect of preparing food commodities for export or interprovincial trade, must be done in accordance with the SFCR. It also outlines the prescribed activities for which a person must apply for a licence to conduct the activities. It is important to read the SFCA and SFCR together to understand these provisions.

When a licence is required, the CFIA will issue one to those who meet the licence requirements set out in Part 3. Licenses can cover the importing of food and most activities related to the preparation of food that is to be exported or inter-provincially traded. Use the Licensing interactive tool to determine if and when you need a licence.

Licensing helps the CFIA better identify food safety risks in order to target inspections, communicate important food safety information directly to food businesses and take enforcement actions if necessary. Such actions can range from requesting corrective measures to suspending or cancelling a licence, when regulatory requirements are not met.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 5: Sending, conveying, importing or exporting a prescribed food commodity

Section 6: Possession of a food commodity

Section 7: Conducting a prescribed activity

Keep in mind

Unprocessed food used as grain, oil, pulse, sugar or beverage, are listed in Schedule I of the SFCR. These are: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, camelina, canola, chickpeas, cocoa beans, coffee beans, dry beans, dry faba beans, dry peas, flaxseed, hemp, hops, lentils, maize (corn), millet, mustard seeds, oats, quinoa, rapeseed, rice, rye, safflower seeds, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets, sugar cane, sunflower seeds, tea leaves, triticale, wheat, wild rice.

3.0 General requirements - import, export, interprovincial trade

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Sections 8, 9, 10 and 15

Rationale

Sections 8, 9, 10 and 15 describe general requirements for food that is imported, or that is to be exported or inter-provincially traded. The requirements help to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses and from misrepresentation. These requirements also help maintain consumer and trading partners' confidence in the Canadian food safety and inspection system.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 8: Interprovincial trade, import and export and mixing of contaminated food

Resource

Refer to Incoming ingredients, materials and non-food chemicals for guidance on how to ensure inputs are safe and suitable for use in food.

Section 9: Compliance with standards

Resource

The Canadian Standards of Identity document is incorporated by reference and has eight volumes. The entire collection of documents can be found with the SFCA and SFCR in Documents incorporated by reference - Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

Section 10: Use of food additives and other substances

Resource

Health Canada is responsible for setting standards and guidelines for food additives and other substances. You can find the tables of permitted food additives and other residue limits and levels in Food safety standards and guidelines

Section 15: Interprovincial trade and export

Note

Section 15 of the SFCR does not apply to food additives and alcoholic beverages.

4.0 General requirements - Import

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Sections 11 to 14

Rationale

These regulatory provisions for importers within or outside Canada relate to licensing, preventive controls and import information that needs to be provided to the CFIA.

Food that is prepared in a foreign country is not subject to Canadian food legislation until it is imported into Canada. However, in order for food to be imported, the food must be prepared in a manner and under conditions that provide at least the same level of protection as food prepared in Canada.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 11: Import

Resource

Regulatory requirements: Preventive controls and A guide for preparing a preventive control plan - for importers are two documents that explain the preventive controls and how they apply to importers.

Keep in mind

Though these exceptions are included in the SFCR, food additives will continue to be regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and alcoholic beverages will continue to have provincial and territorial oversight and be subject to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.

Section 12: Import - fixed place of business and in-transit shipments

Keep in mind

Current recognized systems or arrangements include:

Resource

Part 7 of the SFCR provides more details on applying for recognition of an inspection system or recognition of a system.

Section 13: Import information

Keep in mind

For the purposes of subsection 13(3), the foods listed in section 25 are not considered to be "meat products". See Section 25: Exception - meat products in this document.

Section 14: Import - further inspection

Keep in mind

For the purposes of subsection 14(1), the foods listed in section 25 are not considered to be as meat products". See Section 25: Exception - meat products in this document.

5.0 General requirements - Export

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Section 16 and 17

Rationale

These regulatory provisions relate to the export of food including the requirements for export certification and inspection. In general, foods that are exported must meet SFCR requirements as well as foreign country requirements; however, in certain cases, a foreign country's requirements may differ from Canadian requirements. Foods that do not meet Canadian requirements can be exported only if certain conditions are met. Export certificates and other CFIA documents may be issued to demonstrate to foreign countries that the exported food is safe. Foods that do not meet the requirements of the SFCR are not permitted to be sold in Canada.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 16: Exception - export of non-compliant food

Resource

The Industry Labelling Tool and Labelling, standards of identity and grades can also help in clarifying the Canadian labelling requirements and food standard.

Section 17: Export certificates or other export permission

Keep in mind

Export certificates and other export permissions issued by the CFIA (for example, negotiated certificates, CFIA product or inspection certificates, statements or letters to accompany shipments) are used to facilitate the export of food commodities (other than an animal) to foreign countries. Export eligibility lists are also used by the CFIA as a form of certification (for example, lists of establishments approved to export fish and seafood).

On an export certificate, the CFIA attests to the conditions related to the food indicated on the export certificate (for example, certificate of origin and hygiene, grades). Therefore, the CFIA may need to inspect the food before issuing a certificate. Some foreign countries require each shipment to be inspected by the CFIA before they will accept imports.

6.0 Exceptions and non-applications

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Sections 18 to 25

Rationale

These provisions describe the food, activities and persons for which some or all requirements of the SFCR do not apply. In most cases, there are specific conditions to be met in order for these exceptions to apply.

Exceptions to certain SFCR requirements aim to facilitate import; export and interprovincial trade provided certain requirements are met.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 18: Non-compliant food

Keep in mind

Only a grader can grade a livestock carcass or a poultry carcass, however a grader or a licence holder under the supervision of a grader can apply the grade name on a livestock or poultry carcass.

Section 19: Exception - import for export

Section 20: Exception - person who conveys

Resource

Regulatory requirements: Fresh fruits or vegetables explain the requirements in sections 122 and 123.

Part 13 of the SFCR outlines the requirements for using the organic logo on food commodities for information or advertising.

Section 21: Personal use

Section 22: Exception - return to Canada of exported food

Keep in mind

For the purposes of subsection 22(1), the foods listed in section 25 are not considered to be "meat products". See Section 25: Exception - meat products in this document.

Section 23: Exception - interprovincial trade, import and export

Section 24: Exception - in bond shipment

Keep in mind

A bonded food shipment means the shipment has not obtained customs release, moves through Canada under customs bond and the food is not released into the Canadian marketplace. These shipments are not considered to have been imported.

Section 25: Exception - meat products

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