Issuing a Letter of Non-Compliance

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 Purpose

To provide the inspectorate with a standardized procedure to follow when issuing a letter of non-compliance (LoNC).

2.0 Overview

As per the Standard Regulatory Response Process (SRRP), there is a broad range of actions available to the CFIA which may be used to respond to non-compliance by a regulated party (RP). The LoNC is one of the available tools.

It should be noted that the issuance of a LoNC may not apply to all CFIA inspection programs and the inspectorate should refer to program-related enforcement guidance or procedures.

3.0 Background

The LoNC is an administrative action used to document a contravention of legislation enforced by the CFIA. It serves as a notice to the RP and forms part of the internal administratively collected information gathered by the CFIA regarding compliance history. As per the SRRP, this information is documented to support enforcement actions if they are required in the future.

Use of a LoNC may be appropriate in situations where the following statements apply:

  • the non-compliance has not resulted, or is not likely to result, in serious or very serious harm (such as health or safety risks to humans, plants, or animals; or marketplace deception)
  • the non-compliance is not intentional
  • the inspector believes that a LoNC will have the appropriate deterrent effect
  • the RP has an otherwise good compliance history

The enforcement decision process in the SRRP will help determine if a LoNC is an appropriate response to the non-compliance.

4.0 Authorities

A LoNC is an administrative action established under policy that is not enabled by legislation.

5.0 Acronyms

DSDP

Digital Service Delivery Platform

IM

Inspection manager

LoNC

Letter of non-compliance

RP

Regulated party

SRRP

Standard Regulatory Response Process

6.0 Operational procedure

6.1 Draft the LoNC using the template in Appendix A

The LoNC should include the following information:

  • date of issuance of the LoNC
  • the date and location of the non-compliance
  • regulated party name and address
  • subject line
  • the section(s) of the Act or Regulations that pertain to the non-compliance
  • a summary of the facts and a short description of the non-compliance; where applicable, the date(s) that effective corrective actions must be in place to avoid further enforcement action
  • refer to the Standard Inspection Procedure (SIP) section 6.3 as a source of timelines and due dates based on the severity of the non-compliance
  • the name and telephone number of the CFIA contact person to discuss the issue in greater detail
  • the LoNC should be on CFIA letterhead

The information above may be adjusted to appropriately address the circumstances of each instance of non-compliance. However, it is recommended that all information noted above be included and worded as closely as possible to the recommended template.

6.2 Sign the LoNC

A LoNC is normally signed by a supervisor or an inspection manager (IM) as per operational procedure. Should the RP wish to question the content of the LoNC, the CFIA official who signs the document would be the point of contact to discuss issues outlined in the letter.

6.3 Deliver the LoNC to the regulated party

The LoNC should be delivered to the RP with a copy of the associated inspection report(s) that resulted in its issuance.

The best practice is hand delivering the LoNC and copies of associated inspection reports to the RP, preferably by the inspector who conducted the inspection. Upon delivery to the RP, the inspector should clearly explain:

  • the content of the LoNC
  • the regulatory authorities of inspectors
  • regulatory requirements that RPs are obligated to comply with, as well as
  • the potential consequence(s) of further non-compliance

If an inspector cannot hand deliver the LoNC, it should be sent by registered mail or courier to the RP's mailing address. In these situations, the inspector should follow up delivery of the LoNC with a phone conversation to the RP to address the items above.

6.4 Document the LoNC process

The delivery process and interaction with the RP must be documented in the inspector's notes and kept on file for future reference. If the LoNC was not hand delivered to the RP, a hard copy of the delivery notice should be included in the file. A best practice is to file a copy of the original signed correspondence with the following information recorded on the back of it:

  • time, date, method and location of delivery
  • inspector(s) initials
  • name of RP and/or company representative (if the LoNC was hand-delivered) and
  • pertinent information which can be cross referenced to the inspector's notes

The inspector's notes are critical information to be used when faced with repeat incidents of non-compliance. These notes will be used to establish that the RP was clearly and personally advised of the non-compliance issue and regulatory requirements, etc.

6.5 Tracking the recommendation and issuance of a LoNC

The continuing expansion of the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP) across CFIA inspection programs will allow inspectors to enter information regarding the recommendation and issuance of LoNCs. Logging this information is required to document a RP's compliance history and ensure that non-compliance is documented as part of the compliance and enforcement continuum.

Inspection teams are encouraged to log the recommendation and issuance of LoNCs using a spreadsheet for inspection programs that have yet to be incorporated into DSDP.

7.0 Appendix

Appendix A – Letter of non-compliance template

8.0 References

Standard Regulatory Response Process

For inquiries related to this guidance document, please use established communication channels.

Appendix A – Letter of Non-Compliance Template

(DATE SIGNED)

(NAME OF REGULATED PARTY)
(NAME OF PERSON, TITLE)
(ADDRESS OF REGULATED PARTY),
(City, Province)
(Postal Code)
Tel: XXX-XXX-XXXX

Subject: Inspection conducted on (DATE), file no. XXXXXXX

Dear Sir/Madame,

On (DATE), an Inspector of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducted an inspection of your (TYPE OF FACILITY) at (ADDRESS WHERE INSPECTION OCCURED). The inspection revealed that (SUMMARY OF THE FACTS – short description of the non-compliance).

The facts mentioned above give the CFIA reasonable grounds to believe that this constitutes a contravention of (SECTION XX) of the (XX ACT/REGULATION) that states:

"QUOTE THE SECTION".

[NOTE: if more than one incident of non-compliance, describe them all and quote all necessary provisions. If a provision of the Act was contravened because a product did not meet standards in the Regulations, quote both the Act and Regulation provisions]

Contraventions to the applicable Acts and Regulations indicated in this letter are grounds for enforcement action. Failure to take corrective action by [Insert date of completion of corrective action] may lead to subsequent enforcement actions, such as the suspension of a license, up to and including prosecution.

If you wish to discuss the contents of this letter or need additional information concerning the above, please contact the undersigned.

(SIGNATURE)
(Inspector/Supervisor/IM's name)
(Name of program/section)
(Address of district office)
(City, Province)
(Postal code)
Tel: (XXX) XXX-XXXX
Fax: (XXX) XXX-XXXX

CC: As per existing area protocol

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