Operational Procedure: Procedure for seizure and detention, authorizing movement and disposition

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 procedures to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Inspection Staff to conduct the following activities related to a food product or thing:

  • seize and detain
  • authorize movement while seized and detained
  • determine disposition of a thing seized and detained (such as release, destruction, forfeiture)

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

These procedures must be applied to control a thing that is non-compliant or was used or obtained in contravention of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) or the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). As described in the Operational guideline - Food regulatory response guidelines, these procedures are not applied when ordering that a thing not be moved while an inspection is being conducted to determine compliance.

2.0 Authorities

3.0 Reference documents

4.0 Definitions

Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:

Thing
For the purpose of this procedure, a thing is a food commodity, article, item or anything to which a provision of the Act applies or that was used in or obtained by the contravention of a provision of the Act.

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

Unless otherwise specified, the term "thing" is used throughout the procedure as a general term to indicate items that may be seized by inspectors designated under the SFCA or FDA. Unless otherwise specified, the actions and options identified in this guidance may be applied equally to things seized under either the SFCA or FDA.

6.1 Procedure to seize and detain a thing

  1. Identify the thing to be seized and confirm the conditions under which it can be seized.
    1. For a seizure under the SFCA, the inspector must have reasonable grounds to believe the thing meets one of the following conditions:
      • has been used in the contravention of any provision of the SFCA or SFCR
      • is something that is not in compliance with SFCA or SFCR
      • has been obtained by a contravention of a provision of the SFCA or SFCR
    2. For a seizure under FDA, the inspector must believe on reasonable grounds that the thing is an article by means of, or in relation to which any provision of this Act or the Regulations has been contravened. Since CFIA inspectors are designated under FDA only in relation to food, the thing being seized must be one of the following:
      • a food
      • anything used for the manufacture, preparation, preservation, packaging or storing of a food
      • any labelling or advertising material

    If a thing meets the conditions for seizure of both SFCA and FDA, consider the following factors to select the more appropriate Act:

    • which inspection powers (SFCA or FDA) were used to conduct the inspections that determined the thing was non-compliant
    • location and ownership of the thing at the time of seizure
    • the nature of other non-compliance associated with the thing
  2. Ensure the items are properly stored at the time of seizure.
    1. The thing (or parts of the thing) may need to be consolidated, segregated or moved to an appropriate storage location where it can be properly identified and securely maintained for the duration of the period of detention at the owner's expense.

      In the case of a food product, the product should be stored in a location and storage condition suitable for the food. Refrigerated or frozen product should be stored in a location capable of maintaining the product at the required temperature for the duration of the period of detention.

    2. At the time of seizure and when dealing with something seized, the inspector may:

      • move the thing to an appropriate storage location on notice to the owner or person in possession, care or control of the thing
      • order the movement of the thing to an appropriate storage location

      If a seized thing must be moved to ensure proper storage: refer to section 6.3.2, step 2 - Ordering the movement, disposal or storage of a seized thing.

    3. If more than one thing needs to be seized, they should be properly separated, sorted and marked so that each can be clearly identified by separate notices of detention and tags.
  3. Complete a CFIA/ACIA 3256New Notice of detention form (internal access only) to seize and detain the thing.
    1. Ensure all fields are completed as accurately as possible
    2. State the section of the Act that authorizes the inspector to seize the thing:
      • for SFCA, identify SFCA 25
      • for FDA, identify FDA 23(2)(l)
    3. If more than one thing needs to be seized, they should be properly separated, sorted and marked so that each can be clearly identified by separate notices of detention and tags. Although not required, the inspector may also use official CFIA tape to help identify the items seized.
  4. Complete the detention tag portion of a CFIA/ACIA 3256New Notice of detention form (internal access only) which is used to identify the thing that is seized and detained. The tag must include the following mandatory information:

    1. the expression "UNDER DETENTION" and the word "RETENU", in capital letters
    2. the detention tag number
    3. a description of the thing
    4. the reason for the seizure and detention
    5. the date of the seizure and detention
    6. the inspector's name and signature

    It is preferable that one detention tag be used per notice of detention. If the thing being seized is spread over a large area, such as in the case of a large lot of product, more than one detention tag may be used. In such cases, complete additional detention tags bearing the same number. The location of the detention tag(s) should be recorded by the inspector and pointed out to the person receiving the notice of detention. It is also a good practice to take photographs of the items seized and the locations of the affixed detention tag(s).

  5. Attach the corresponding detention tag(s) in a prominent place on the thing being seized and detained.
  6. As soon as feasible after a thing has been seized and detained, deliver the notice of detention in person or by registered mail to either:
    1. the owner of the thing, or
    2. the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure

6.2 Authorizing the movement of a thing while seized and detained

  1. Review the written request to move the thing submitted by the owner or person having possession, care or control of the thing to be moved.
    1. Confirm that the new location and conditions of storage are suitable for the nature of the thing seized.
    2. Confirm that CFIA inspectors will still have access to the thing at the new location (for example, it will not be moved to a dwelling-house).
  2. To authorize the movement of the thing, amend the notice of detention form by completing the "Authority to move product or other thing under detention" section with the following information:
    1. the full address where the thing is authorized to be moved
    2. the exact location at that address where the thing will be stored
  3. Provide a copy of the amended notice of detention to the owner or person having possession, care or control of the thing.
  4. When feasible, verify that the thing has been properly relocated to the new storage place and re-apply detention tags matching the notice of detention and new location. If the thing has been moved to a location outside the inspector's area of responsibility, coordinate with the receiving region/inspection staff to ensure continued oversight of the thing seized.

6.3 Disposition of a thing that has been seized and detained

6.3.1 Release of a thing seized and detained

  1. Determine if the thing seized may be released based on the following conditions:
    1. the inspector is satisfied that the provisions of the Act and the regulations that apply with respect to the thing seized have been complied with; or
    2. a court or Tribunal has ordered the thing to be returned to the owner or person having possession, care or control
  2. To release a thing from seizure and detention:
    1. complete a Notice of Release from detention form CFIA/ACIA 3257 (internal access only)
    2. provide the owner or person having possession, care or control of the thing with the completed release form
    3. remove all detention tags and CFIA tape, if used
    4. update case file and include a copy of the release form
    5. proceed with any necessary follow-up inspection activities (Section 6.4) and complete the inspection case (Section 6.5)

6.3.2 Other options for the handling of a thing seized and detained

  1. If a thing seized cannot be released (conditions of 6.3.1 not met), determine how the thing can be otherwise disposed.

    Table 1: Determining options for handling of a thing seized and detained
    If Options

    the thing is perishable
    or
    in the inspector's opinion, the thing presents a risk of injury to human health and disposal is necessary to respond to the risk

    • the inspector may dispose of the thing or order disposal of the thing seized.
    • see Step 2, below

    the owner or person having possession, care or control of the thing requests permission to dispose of the thing rather than bring it into compliance

    • the inspector may authorize the thing seized to be disposed and an inspector should witness the disposal

    the thing is a food that was imported and does not meet the requirements of the Act or Regulations or was imported in contravention of the Act or Regulations

    or

    • if removal is not possible, the inspector may order destruction of the food
    • see Step 2

    the thing is an imported food that has not been removed or destroyed within the time specified on notice to the owner, or otherwise, within 90 days
    or
    within 60 days of seizure, the owner of the thing or person entitled to have it has not been identified
    or
    within 60 days of release from seizure, the owner of the thing or person having possession, care or control of it, does not claim it

  2. Ordering the movement, disposal or storage of a seized thing

    Inspectors have the authority to order the movement, disposal or storage of a thing that has been seized and detained. An inspector may be required to use this power when a product poses a high health and safety risk and the owner or person in possession, care or control of the product does not willingly manage it in a manner that ensures the risks are controlled.

    1. Prior to ordering the disposal, movement or storage of a thing, verify that the action will not be a contravention of animal health or plant health regulations or otherwise cause a risk to the animal or plant resources or the environment.
    2. Provide the owner or the person having possession, care or control of the seized thing a notice in person or by registered mail that the thing must be moved, disposed or stored in a certain manner. Include any conditions to be met such as CFIA presence when the order is being carried out.
    3. Record all communications with the regulated party, including the time, date and place of such communications.
    4. If the regulated party agrees to proceed with the ordered action, follow-up inspection should be conducted in order to confirm that the order was carried out.
    5. If the owner or the person having possession, care or control of the seized thing refuses to comply with the order, then consider other control options such as movement, disposal or storage by the CFIA or requesting forfeiture of the product. Consult Operational guideline -Food regulatory response guidelines and the Standard regulatory response process for the available control and enforcement options.

6.4 Follow-up on non-compliance

  1. Apply the Standard inspection procedures (SIP) or Operational procedure: Meat Compliance verification system and any applicable commodity specific guidance to conduct any follow-up inspections necessary to determine if non-compliance associated with the thing seized has been corrected. If the non-compliance has not been corrected, consult the Standard regulatory response process and the Operational guideline - Food regulatory response guidelines to determine if enforcement actions should be applied.
  2. Follow-up inspection activities or the initiation of enforcement actions can occur independent of the final disposition of the seized thing (for example, release, disposal/destruction, removal, forfeiture).

6.5 Complete inspection case

  1. When all required enforcement actions have been completed and followed up and all non-compliances have been addressed:
    1. complete the inspection cases (current and follow up as required) by recording all pertinent information in the official repository for inspection information (data capture system to be determined) and results as indicated in the SIP or CVS guidance (meat only) and the official repository user manual
    2. provide the regulated party with the inspection report

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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