Operational procedure: Procedures for cancelling a food licence

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.

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1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff on the procedures for cancelling a licence issued under sections 20(1) of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA).

This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in section 3.0.

The guidance outlined below should be used when the inspectorate has applied the SRRP, reviewed the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines and determines that suspension of a food licence is appropriate.

2.0 Authorities

The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the above legislation are identified and explained in the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Definitions are located in either the:

5.0 Acronyms

Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.

6.0 Operational procedure

6.1 Verify that grounds for cancellation are met

Refer to the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines to verify that grounds for cancellation of a licence are met.

6.2 Recommend that the Director of Operations begin the licence cancellation process

  • Complete a Recommendation for a Licence Action form. Include all information as directed on the form. In particular, ensure the following information is included:
    • sections of the SFCA and/or SFCR/Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) that were not in compliance
    • information about the compliance history of the licence holder
    • a recommendation for cancellation of the licence
    • the rational for recommending cancellation

    The Recommendation for a Licence Action form provides the Director of Operations with supporting information to consider prior to beginning the cancellation process.
  • Use the template in Appendix 1 to draft a Notification of Intent to Cancel a Licence. This notification is used to inform the licence holder that CFIA is considering cancellation of the licence and to invite the licence holder to be heard by the Director of Operations. The date by which regulated party must respond to the notification of intent to cancel a licence is determined by the Director of Operations.
  • Submit the Recommendation for a Licence Action form and draft notification to the Supervisor for review.
    • The Supervisor reviews the case, verifies that the grounds for cancellation have been met, and that the recommendation is consistent with the Operational Guideline - Food regulatory response guidelines.
    • The Supervisor signs the action form and submits the package to the Inspection Manager for approval.
    • The Inspection Manager (IM) reviews the recommendation and notification, signs the action form, and submits the package to the Director of Operations for final approval.
    • The Director of Operations reviews the recommendation for cancellation package.
    • If the Director of Operations decides to cancel the licence, signs the notification letter to be sent to the licence holder.
    • This initiates the cancellation process, however, the cancellation of the licence is not completed until the licence holder has been given an opportunity to be heard and the Director of Operations signs a cancellation letter.

    At any point during the process, the Supervisor, IM or Director of Operations may consult with the Operational Guidance and Expertise (OGE) Division to confirm whether grounds for cancellation exist.
  • Document and keep records of all communications with the licence holder in accordance with the established protocols.

6.3 Provide an opportunity to be heard

If the licence holder accepts the invitation for an opportunity to be heard, the Director of Operations:

  • chairs a meeting (in person, on the phone or video) with the licence holder to discuss the grounds for cancellation and to receive any information the licence holder would like to share with the Director of Operations
  • records their final decision whether to cancel the licence on the Recommendation for a Licence Action form

In the event that the licence holder declines the opportunity, the Director of Operations makes their final decision based on the information available and records it on the Recommendation for a Licence Action form.

The Director of Operations forwards the decision to regional inspection staff as per established protocols.

6.4 Complete cancellation of the licence

If the Director of Operations decides to proceed with the cancellation:

  • use the Notification of Cancellation of a Food Licence template in the Appendix 1 to draft a cancellation letter
  • forward the cancellation letter for Supervisor's review, and subsequent actions for IM review and Director of Operations' signature
  • mail the Notification of Cancellation signed by the Director of Operations to the licence holder by registered mail or hand deliver to the licence holder
  • if delivered by registered mail, follow up with the licence holder to ensure they received the letter and understand it
  • maintain a copy of the signed cancellation letter and corresponding action form in file
  • enter the details of the enforcement action in the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP)

6.5 Notify Centre of Administration (CoA) of the CFIA decision to cancel a licence

Once the inspection decision has been taken to cancel a food licence, the Director of Operations or delegate, sends a red-flagged e-mail to the CoA at cfia.permission.acia@canada.ca:

  1. subject line in the e-mail "CANCELLATION– SFC licence – licence number – company name"
  2. communicate valid rationale that led to this decision in the body of the e-mail
  3. attach supporting documentation (if applicable) to help the CoA defend the Director of Operations' decision when the CoA removes the regulated party from the Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry,
    When a licence is cancelled, the CoA will amend the status of the licence in DSDP. The Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry list is directly updated from DSDP (it may take up to 4 hours for the list to refresh). The amendments to the Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry List, reflects the eligibility of the food business licenced under the SFCR for export to US and countries that do not require a commodity and country specific establishment or product eligibility list.
    The export eligibility lists for fish (Canadian Establishments Approved List for fish and seafood), the List of Federally Registered Meat Establishments and their Licensed Operators for meat and the list of Registered egg stations are maintained separately. CoA will manually update these lists when notified by the inspectors of changes to a licence status.
  4. inspector should confirm that the licence holder's status on the Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry and other applicable eligibility lists have been updated.
  5. apply the Operational procedure – Procedures for maintaining food export eligibility lists to request removal of the licence holder from all applicable export eligibility lists. Country specific export eligibility lists are maintained by the Food Import / Export Division or by Foreign Competent Authorities of the importing country and found in the Export registers and lists - Information by country.


If the licence holder continues to conduct an activity that was identified in their licence after the licence is cancelled, refer to the Standard regulatory response process to determine appropriate enforcement and or control actions.

7.0 Appendices

For general inquiries related to this operational guidance document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF).

Appendix 1 – Forms and templates

  • Recommendation for a Licence Action Form (internal access only - RDIMS 10461441)
  • Notification of Intent to Cancel a Licence (internal access only - RDIMS 10491403)
  • Notification of Cancellation of a Licence (internal access only - RDIMS 10476635)
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