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, 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.

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

  • When you import, export or inter-provincially trade any food commodity:
    • you must hold a licence to import all foods except for the foods listed in 11(2)(a) to (c), and
    • the food commodity and the licence holder must meet all applicable the requirements of the SFCR

Section 6: Possession of a food commodity

Section 7: Conducting a prescribed activity

  • If you manufacture, prepare, store, package or label any food commodity that has been imported or is to be exported or traded inter-provincially:
    • you must do so in accordance with the SFCR
    • for organic food, you must also advertise and convey in accordance with the SFCR
  • If you manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package or label any food (with the exception of food additives and alcoholic beverages) that has been imported, or is to be exported or sent from one province or territory to another:
    • you must have a licence to conduct the specific activity with the exception of:
      • packaging and labelling fresh fruits or vegetables in the field that will be sent or conveyed to a licence holder in another province to be manufactured, processed, treated preserved or graded
      • packaging and labelling foods listed in Schedule I of the SFCR if at the time of export or interprovincial trade:
        • it is unprocessed and is intended to be manufactured, processed or treated for use as a grain, oil, pulse, sugar or beverage
        • it is not a consumer prepackaged food, and
        • it has a label "For Further Preparation Only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement"
      • grading of livestock or poultry carcass
    • you must have a licence to store and handle an edible meat product in its imported condition for inspection by a CFIA inspector
  • You must have a licence to slaughter a food animal if the meat products are to be sent or conveyed from one province to another or exported

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

  • Any food that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported:

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.

  • Unless authorized by the CFIA, you cannot mix contaminated food with food that is not contaminated to meet the requirements of the SFCR
  • The CFIA may authorize the mixture of contaminated food with non-contaminated food if it is of the opinion that no risk of injury to human health will result.

Section 9: Compliance with standards

  • Any food that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported, that has a standard listed in the Canadian Standards of Identity Document, must meet that standard.
  • Any food that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported and that could be mistaken for a food that has a standard listed in the Canadian Standards of Identity Document must meet that standard

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

  • You can use a food additive or other substance if you are manufacturing, processing, treating or preserving a food that has been imported or that is to be exported or inter-provincially traded unless:
    • its use is not permitted by the SFCR or the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) or
    • its use does not comply with the limits or levels prescribed by the SFCR or the FDA

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.

  • Any food that is exported or inter-provincially traded must meet the following:
    • if the food is manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, graded, packaged or labelled in Canada, that activity must be conducted by a licence holder in compliance with the SFCA and SFCR; with the exception of:
      • packaging and labelling fresh fruits or vegetables in the field by the person who grows or harvests them if they will be sent or conveyed to another province or territory to be manufactured, processed, treated, preserved or graded by a licence holder
      • packaging and labelling of unprocessed food listed in Schedule I of the SFCR if :
        • it is intended to be manufactured, processed or treated for use as a grain, oil, pulse, sugar or beverage
        • it is not a consumer prepackaged food and
        • it has a label "For Further Preparation Only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulment"
      • grading of livestock or poultry carcass
    • if imported, it is imported by a licence holder in compliance with the SFCA and SFCR, with the exception of foods listed in Schedule I
    • if the food is a meat product:
      • the meat product that it contains was manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, packaged or labelled in Canada by a licence holder in compliance with the SFCA and SFCR
      • the meat product that it contains was derived from a livestock carcass or a poultry carcass that was graded in Canada by a grader in compliance with the SFCR
      • if the meat product that it contains was imported, it was imported by a licence holder in compliance with the SFCA and SFCR, and
      • the meat that it contains was derived from food animals that were slaughtered in Canada by a licence holder in compliance with the SFCA and SFCR

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.

  • The following imported foods are not subject to the above requirement:
    • food additives
    • a beverage containing more than 0.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume or
    • foods listed in Schedule I of the SFCR and that meets the following criteria:
      • is unprocessed (for example, raw) and will be manufactured, processed or treated for use as grain, oil, pulse, sugar or beverage
      • has a label applied, attached or accompanying the imported food that states "for further preparation only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement", and
      • is not a consumer prepackaged food

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

  • If you import food and do not have a fixed place of business in Canada where you carry on business related to the food, you must:
    • have your fixed place of business in a foreign country that CFIA has determined provides the same level of protection as the SFCA and SFCR; meaning that:
      • if the food is a meat product or live or raw shellfish, the foreign country has an inspection system that has been recognized under Part 7 by the CFIA. Note: the adductor muscles of scallops or the meat of geoducks are not considered to be live or raw shellfish; or
      • if the food is not a meat product or live or raw shellfish, the foreign country has a food safety system that has been determined by the CFIA as having at least the same level of food safety protection as the SFCA and SFCR, and
    • send or convey the food directly from that foreign country
      • If the food passes only in transit through a foreign country, it is not considered as being sent or conveyed from the country that it passed through.

Keep in mind

Current recognized systems or arrangements include:

  • When the CFIA determines if a foreign country has the same level of protection as the SFCA and SFCR, we take into account the following:
    • the foreign country's legislation, controls and procedures
    • how the organization responsible for the food safety system in the foreign country is structured
    • how the food safety system is implemented in the foreign country
    • the resources that support the objectives of the food safety system
    • any other relevant information

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

  • To import food, you will be required to provide the following information to the CFIA:
    • your name, address and, if applicable, your import licence number
    • the name and address of your supplier in the foreign country
    • the name of the country of origin of the food
    • the first address location where the food will be delivered once it is released into Canada
    • a description of the food, including its common name and quantity
    • any information relating to the safety of the food that CFIA considers a potential risk to human health
    • if the food is live or raw shellfish, the establishment registration number or other identification number provided by the foreign country where the shellfish was last manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged or labelled prior to its importation
  • You can use your current declaration process for providing your import information to the CFIA and the Canada Border Services Agency.
  • This import information and any official documents required under the SFCR in the case of egg, processed egg products or meat products, must be provided to the CFIA before or at the time of import.
  • An exception could be made to provide the import information after the time of import for foods other than meat products if the importer makes a written request to the CFIA.

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

  • If an inspection by the CFIA is conducted at the time of import and a further inspection is required, you must:
    • in the case of an edible meat product:
      • deliver the meat product to an establishment where it will be stored and handled by a person who holds a licence to store and handle imported meat products for inspection, and
      • provide the address of the establishment where the meat product will be stored and handled if that location is different than the location of where the meat product was originally supposed to be delivered
    • for all other foods, the food must be kept by the person who imported it at the first destination until the further inspection is completed

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

  • Food that does not meet the requirements of the SFCR may be exported if:
    • it does not consist in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance, or
    • it has been manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged and labelled under sanitary conditions, or
    • the food is imported or manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, graded, packaged or labelled in Canada by a licence holder in compliance with the SFCA and SFCR,
    • it has a label applied or attached to the food that states "Export" or "exportation", and
      • if the foreign country where you are exporting the food has different requirements than the SFCR you must keep a document for two years from the date the food was exported, that shows how you have met the foreign country's requirements for the food.
      • if the foreign country where you are exporting the food does not have a requirement for the food, you must keep a document for two years from the date the food was exported, that outlines the specifications for the unmet SFCR requirements for the food that your foreign buyer requested.
    • The unmet SFCR requirement must be one of the requirements related to the Canadian standard for the food, the use of food additives or Canadian container sizes and labelling requirements specific to the food. These requirements are found in the following SFCR provisions:
      • subsection 9(1)
      • sections 10, 188 to 192, 195, 197, 201, 210, 244-249, 253, 255
      • subsection 257(2)
      • paragraphs 258(c)(d)
      • sections 262, 264, 265, 267, 268, 272, 273, 275, 280
      • paragraph 286(a)
      • sections 288, 292-295, 306-308, 312, 313, 316, 322, 324-327, 329, 331
  • When exporting meat products that do not meet the requirements of the SFCR, there is an additional requirement to also provide a document to a CFIA inspector that demonstrates that the foreign country's requirements for that meat product have been met. You must obtain from the inspector an export certificate or other export permission for the meat product.

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

  • If you require an export certificate or other document to facilitate the export of your food commodity, you must submit an application to the CFIA.
  • The CFIA will issue an export certificate or other export permission if the applicant holds a licence to export, and:
    • for food, the manufacturing, preparing, storing, packaging and labeling of the food meets the applicable requirements of Part 4 of the SFCR
    • where the foreign country requires a certificate or other export permission for the food commodity or the prescribed food commodity to be imported into the foreign country for human consumption; the manufacturing, preparing, storing, packaging and labeling of the food commodity meets the applicable requirements of Part 4 of the SFCR, other than Division 3, as if it were a food
  • For purposes of section 17, a prescribed food commodity is any commodity derived from a plant or animal or any of it parts that;
    • does not fall into the definition food or is not any animal or plant, or any of its parts, that is used to make the food; and
    • requires an export certificate or other export permission to be imported into the foreign country for purposes of human consumption
  • The prescribed food commodities described above are exempt from any provisions of the SFCA and SFCR not necessary to meet the requirements of section 17
    • They are not exempt from section 6 of the SFCA regarding the manufacture of a food commodity that is false, misleading or giving a wrong impression of the commodity's character, quality, value, quantity, composition, merit, safety or origin.
  • Food commodities may require an inspection by the CFIA before an export certificate or other export permission is issued.
    • if an inspection is required, you must make the food commodity readily accessible to an inspector at the time of inspection

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

  • You can send or convey from one province to another or import a food commodity, that does not meet the requirements of the SFCA and SFCR, if:
    • the food commodity is labelled "For Further Preparation Only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement"
      • this label requirement does not apply to:
        • a beef carcass, or a carcass side, hind quarter, front quarter, primal cut or sub-primal cut of a beef carcass that is labelled "Ungraded" or "boeuf non classifié" as per section 306(2)(f)
        • a processed fruit or vegetable product that is labelled "Substandard" or "sous-régulier" as per section 306(3)(a), or
        • honey that is labelled "Substandard" or "sous-régulier" as per section 306(3)(b)
    • the food will be manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, graded, packaged or labelled by a licence holder so that it meets the requirements of the SCFA and SFCR within:
    • in the case of import, the food is not a meat product
  • The following SFCA and SFCR requirements must always be met even if the food is labelled "for further preparation only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement" and will be brought into compliance by a licence holder:

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

  • Transporters whose only involvement with a food commodity is to convey it from one place to another (such as transporting it by truck, ship or aircraft) are not subject to the SFCAand SFCR, except for:
    • the conveyance of fresh fruit or vegetables as per sections 122 and123
    • the provision relating to the use of the Canada Organic product legend on items other than food, for the purpose of advertising and information as per subsection 359(3), and
    • any other provision of the SFCA and SFCR that a transporter would need to meet in order to comply with section 122 (relating to the DRC membership requirement) , 123 (relating to the request for inspection of fruits or vegetables that have been imported or inter-provincially traded) and 359(3) (relating to the use of the Canada Organic product legend)

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 19 of the SFCA states that any activity prohibited, or required to be done, by the SFCA or SFCR, does not apply to a person carrying out the activity for "personal use". Food is considered to have been imported, exported or sent or conveyed from one province to another, for "personal use" if the food is not intended for commercial use, and if:
    • it was imported, exported or sent or conveyed by an individual and not for business purposes, and
    • be a quantity not more than set out in the Maximum Quantity Limits for Personal Use Exemption, or
    • be a part of the personal effects being imported by an immigrant or exported by an emigrant

Section 22: Exception - return to Canada of exported food

  • Exported food that is being returned to Canada does not have to meet the import requirements of the SFCA and SFCR, if:
    • it is returning in the same condition it was at the time it was exported, and
    • in the case of all foods, other than an edible meat product; the food is being returned to:
    • in the case of an edible meat product;
      • a CFIA inspector has authorized its return to Canada,
      • it is delivered immediately to an establishment where it will be stored and handled in its imported condition by a licence holder, and
      • it is kept in that establishment until the inspection has been completed by a CFIA inspector

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

  • The SFCA and SFCR do not apply to food that is imported, exported or traded inter-provincially if:
    • the food is carried on a ship, aircraft or train for the crew or passengers
    • the food will be used for analysis, evaluation, research or be used as samples at an international or Canadian food exhibition and the food weighs 100 kg or less, or in the case of eggs (a case meaning 30 dozen), is five or fewer cases of eggs
    • the food is not intended or sold for use as food and is labelled "Not for Use as Human Food" or "ne peut servir à l'alimentation humaine"
    • the food is imported from the United States into the Akwesasne Reserve for use by a permanent residence of the Reserve
      • An in bond shipment of food to the Akwesasne Reserve that passes only in transit through the United States is not considered to have been imported from the United States.
    • the food is imported from a foreign country in bond to a cruise ship or military ship in Canada for the crew or passengers of the ship
    • the food is being sent or conveyed between federal penitentiaries from one province or territory to another

Section 24: Exception - in bond shipment

  • The SFCA and SFCR do not apply to in bond shipments of food sent or conveyed from one foreign country to another where the food has been manufactured or prepared outside of Canada and passes only in transit through Canada.

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

  • There are two categories of meat products that, when they meet the conditions specified in section 25, do not need to meet certain meat-specific requirements in the SFCR. These two categories of meat products are:
    • meat products that are ready-to-eat (RTE) mixture
      • products that are a mixture of RTE meat products and a food other than a meat product (e.g. frozen pepperoni pizza). Note that, meat products in column 1 of Part A of Table 2 to Volume 7 of the Standards of Identity Document are not eligible for this exception
    • broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract
      • these are broth, lard, leaf lard, tallow or other rendered fat, suet, shortening, flavour or extract
  • The specific conditions that these two categories of meat products must meet to be eligible for the exception above are:
    • the RTE meat product that is in the mixture or the meat product used to make the broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract must be manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, packaged or labelled in Canada by a licence holder
    • if the RTE meat product that is in the mixture or the meat product used to make the broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract came from a livestock or poultry carcass that was graded in Canada, it meets the grading requirements of the SFCR
    • if the RTE meat product that is in the mixture or the meat product used to make the broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract was imported, it was imported by a licence holder and meets all applicable import requirements of SFCA/R
    • if the RTE mixture or the broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract is imported, it is imported from a foreign country with an inspection system that is recognized under Part 7
      • This recognition must be in place at the time the meat product was produced and at the time it was imported.
    • if the RTE mixture or the broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract is imported, the RTE meat product that is in the mixture or the meat product used to make the broth/animal fat/ meat flavour or extract comes from an establishment that is recognized under Part 7. See Foreign countries establishments eligible to export meat products to Canada for a list of recognized establishments
    • if the RTE mixture is imported, the shipment is accompanied by an official document issued by the foreign competent authority (for example, Official Meat Inspection Certificate or an official document in a format approved by the CFIA).
    • if the broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract is imported, an official document in a format approved by the CFIA must accompany the shipment and the importer keeps documentation showing that the conditions for broth/animal fat/ meat flavour or extract have been met
  • If the meat products that are a RTE mixture or broth/ animal fat/ meat flavour or extract meet the above conditions, then:
    • a licence is not required to store and handle the meat product in its imported condition for inspection and the requirements in Part 4 do not apply when storing and handling these meat products for inspection. (as required by subparagraph 7(2)(a)(ii), paragraph 46(1)(b), sections 69)
    • the following work shift requirements in the SFCR do not need to be met: subsection 28(2), paragraph 29(1)(d), subsection 31(2), section 42. For more information on work shifts please see, Regulatory Requirement: Inspection services for Food Animals and Meat Products
    • the import and export conditions found in subdivision L of Part 6 do not need to be met (as required by section 167 & 168)
    • the requirement for moving an edible meat product from an establishment, when the meat product is not labelled in accordance with the SFCR does not need to be met (as required by section 296)
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