Operational Procedure: Ordering removal, or destruction of unlawful imports

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.

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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 to follow when ordering a non-compliant food product be removed from Canada or destroyed

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

This guidance outlined below should be used when a decision has been made to order the destruction or removal of non-compliant food from Canada.


When non-compliances are linked to a food safety investigation or recall, the issue will be assessed on a case by case basis and in consultation with the Office of Food Safety and Recall (OFSR).

2.0 Authorities

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

3.0 Reference Documents

4.0 Definitions

Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:

5.0 Acronyms

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

6.0 Operational procedure

When an imported food is found to be non-compliant, an inspector may order that the food be removed from Canada (SFCA s.32 (1) or FDA s.27.2 (1) or HAA s.18 (1)).

Examples when such an order maybe issued include but are not limited to:

  • food is imported in contravention with the SFCA/SFCR or HAA/HAR. For example; food is mis-declared and allowed entry without required documentation such as permit or certificate.
  • imported food does not meet the requirements of the SFCA/SFCR or FDA/FDR
  • the imported food cannot be brought into compliance and presents a risk to Canada's animal or human health

If removal is not possible or the owner of the product is requesting disposal, the inspector may order the product to be destroyed at the owner's expense. Inspector may consider seizure or detention of the imported product prior to removal or destruction as per procedures in the Operational procedure – Procedure for seizure and detention, authorizing movement and disposition.

Inspectors must notify the Area Import Specialist of all refused shipments of food. Area Import Specialist will notify the Food Import Export Division (FIED) via cfia.mpdimport-importationdpv.acia@canada.ca email account. For shipments of meat refused entry, the Area Import Specialist must forward the following information to the FIED:

  • Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC)
  • Import Inspection Report (IIR)
  • Supporting documents and pictures
  • Laboratory Sample Tracking System (LSTS) report

For shipment of food (other than meat) refused entry, Area Import Specialist will notify the FIED and will forward applicable information such as:

  • Laboratory Sample Tracking System (LSTS) report
  • Inspection report; and
  • Supporting Documents indicating the reason for refusal

FIED may request additional information/documentation from the inspectorate and will make the decision, on a case by case basis, about reporting the import violation to the Foreign Competent Authorities of the exporting country.

6.1 Completing the notice to remove or destroy

Complete the template 'Notice to Remove or Destroy Unlawful Imports' in Appendix 1

  • Identify the product (description, lot number) and details of the shipment (e.g. quantity, shipping container marks, transaction number, seal number).
  • If only an identifiable portion of the product is found to be non-compliant, specify the portion subject to removal or destruction.
  • Identify the section of the Acts or Regulations that are contravened.
  • Identify the timeline for removal of food from Canada or destruction of the food.
  • Consult the Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry to obtain the most updated address for the importer.

Following the completion of the notice, inspector will sign, date, and attach to the notice any documents that may be required to accompany the notice.

6.2 Delivering the notice to remove or destroy and follow up

  • Deliver the notice in person to the owner or importer of the food commodity, or to the person having possession, care or control of it (SFCA s.32(2), (HAA s. 18(2), or
  • Send the notice by registered mail to the owner's, importer's or person's address in Canada (SFCA s.32(2)(HAA s.18(2), or
  • Deliver in person or by any method that provides proof of delivery or by any prescribed methods (FDA s.27.2).

Inspector will follow up with the importer after the date specified on the notice or 90 days after issuing the notice if no date was specified, to confirm importers response to the notice.

6.2.1 Importer chooses to remove the product from Canada

  • Complete sections 1 & 2 of the form CFIA/ACIA 4320 Record of Actions to Remove Non-compliant Imported Food from Canada (internal access only) with applicable information
  • Include date of exit and mode of transportation information provided by the importer.
  • Schedule to witness the removal of product. The decision to witness is made at the discretion of the inspector if the inspector deems it necessary unless specific program direction is in place.
  • Complete the remaining sections of the form, sign and date. Ensure that the importer or their representative has signed the form.
  • Provide the driver and the importer (or a representative) with a copy of the completed form CFIA/ACIA 4320 - Record of Actions to Remove Non-compliant Imported Food from Canada (internal access only).
  • Request the importer to provide proof of exit from Canada. Example of acceptable documents are:
    • a copy of the official bill of lading or airway bill of lading showing amounts, destination and carriers
    • document stamped by the Customs foreign authorities
    • notification from foreign country where product was returned to
    • Form E15 (certificate of destruction/exportation) from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

For meat shipments that are to be removed:

  • when shipment is presented for removal, verify the product information against the notice
  • once the product is loaded in the transport conveyance, affix the CFIA seal on the conveyance. Enter the CFIA seal number in the appropriate field on the form CFIA/ACIA 4320
  • for imported meat from USA that is refused entry and ordered to be removed:
    • fax a copy of the "Notice to Remove or Destroy of Unlawful Imports" to

      Director Import Export Programs
      Office of International Affairs
      USDA/FSIS Washington D.C - Facsimile: 202-720-7990

Meat shipments returning without the CFIA seal will be refused entry at the destination by the Foreign Competent Authority (FCA). Refused/returned shipments of food (other than meat) may or may not require a seal on the returned shipment based on the foreign country requirements of the receiving country.

For all refused shipment of food returning to the country of origin, provide a copy of the Form CFIA/ACIA 4320 (Records of actions to Remove Non-compliant Imported Food from Canada) to the Area Import Specialist. Area Import Specialist will forward the form to the FIED via cfia.mpdimport-importationdpv.acia@canada.ca.

6.2.2 Importer chooses to destroy the product

Importer may choose to destroy the product in lieu of returning to the origin. The importer must be able to demonstrate that destruction of product will not introduce any risk of contamination to the environment, animal, and food sources or cause injury to human or animal health. The destruction method does not contravene any health of animal's acts or regulations.

All costs related to the destruction are at the importer's expense (SFCA s.32(1) and FDA s.27.2(1)). The destruction may or may not be conducted under an inspector's supervision. Animal and plant health waste disposal requirements may apply.

A CFIA inspector will:

  • assess the method of disposal proposed by the importer. Inspectors may consult with Supervisor, Specialist or Operational Guidance Expertise (OGE) for assessment of destruction method if required
  • issue an authorization for movement of the product (SFCA s.24(2), FDA s.25 (but also just for seized things)) If the product will be moved to a different location for destruction. Refer to Operational procedure- procedures for seizure and detention, authorizing movement and disposition.
  • request the importer to provide a proof of destruction.
  • determine if the destruction of product should be witnessed by a CFIA inspector

6.2.3 Importer chooses to forfeit the product

The importer/owner of the imported product may consent to forfeit a thing that was seized. This is considered a voluntary forfeiture (SFCA s.35 or FDA s.27(1). Refer to section 6.2.6 Ordering and conducting the forfeiture of a thing in the Operational Guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.

6.2.4 Importer does not take any action within 90 days after the day notice of removal or destruction was delivered

If no action is taken by the importer within the time specified on the notice or 90 days after the day on which the notice was delivered or sent, if no time specified, the food commodity is forfeited to her Majesty in right of Canada and maybe disposed, as the Minister may direct (SFCA s. 32(3) FDA s.27.2 (3) or HAA s.18 (4). Refer to section 6.2.6 Ordering and conducting the forfeiture of a thing of the Operational Guideline – Food regulatory response guideline.

The inspectors may decide to suspend the forfeiture or cancel the Notice to Remove or Destroy Unlawful Imports as per SFCA s.32(4)(5).

6.3 Close the file

Once the product has been removed from Canada, destroyed or forfeited, complete inspection report and save the inspection results along with the copy of Notice to Remove or Destroy Unlawful Imports, and supporting documents in the official repository for inspection information.

6.4 Appendices

Appendix 1: Notice to Remove or Destroy Unlawful Imports – (internal access only - RDIMS 11268152)

Appendix 2: Record of Actions to Remove Non-Compliant Imported Food from Canada - (Form 4320)

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

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