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Use of official seals

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply 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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Introduction

The use of an official seal on transport containers is to ensure that the integrity of the meat product has not been compromised while in transit. The official seal is required on import shipments of meat products from all countries except the United States, shipments of unmarked meat products from the United States and imported meat product shipments that have been in transit through the United States. The use of the official seal is detailed in the following sections of this document.

Shipments of imported meat products from all countries other than the United States

For meat and meat products originating from all countries other than the United States, containers, trucks or lockers used to transport imported meat products must be secured with an official seal issued by the competent authority responsible for the Meat Inspection system, in order to demonstrate that the integrity of the meat product has been controlled during the transport. Furthermore, depending on the prevalent animal diseases in the country of origin, the CFIA's Terrestrial Animal Health Division (TAHD) may obligate the transport container to be sealed with an official seal of the competent Animal Health authorities of the country of origin. This import condition must be detailed in the Animal Health Import Permit issued for a specific meat product. The official seal number, recorded on the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) by the competent authority will satisfy both the TAHD and the Meat Inspection requirement.

Fully marked, tamper evident meat products from countries free of serious Animal Health diseases may be shipped by air transport directly from the originating country without use of officials seals. The shipping marks will identify the shipment to the OMIC.

Use and removal of a CFIA official seal

The use and/or the removal of a CFIA official seal or the official seal of the competent authority of the country of origin are to be controlled by the CFIA.

Imported meat shipments that have to be opened at a port of landing, either by a CFIA inspector or by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer must be resealed with another official seal. An official note detailing the number of the original seal removed by the official at the border, as well as the number of the replacement official seal, will be essential as proof that the meat product was maintained under continuous official control.

Due to external factors (for example: transport strikes, breakdown in transport equipment), the imported meat product may need to be de-stuffed from the original transport container and trans-loaded into either a transport van or another transport container to the import inspection location. The importer / driver must contact the CFIA as trans-loading has to be carried out only under CFIA supervision.

In summary, the use of foreign meat inspection services' official seal is required to meet import conditions established by the TAHD and the Food Imports, FIED, and it must be identified on the OMIC. Numbers on the seals removed from the transport containers at the import inspection establishment must match the numbers indicated on the certificate or other official document such as Transport and Entry form number 7512 (see below). In every case where the numbers do not match, explanation should be required from the importer.

Shipments of unmarked or unstamped meat products

All shipments of meat products imported into Canada from countries other than the United States require official seals. For meat products from the United States official seals are required on unmarked shipments. Unstamped shipments from the United States may be sealed with an official seal or a company seal. Refer to Unmarked, un-stamped, tamper-resistant sealed meat shipments.

Shipments which have been trans-loaded, containerized or in transit in the United States

Shipments from offshore countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Uruguay may be shipped through United States ports. These shipments may be trans-loaded or containerized in the United States or moved intact in original containers. For trans-loaded or containerized shipments, a United States Customs and Border Protection (US-CBP) seal is applied to the transport container and the seal numbers are recorded on the Transport and Entry Form number 7512 of the United States Customs or the bill of lading endorsed by a United States Customs stamp.

A majority of meat shipments transiting through the United States arriving at Canadian registered import inspection establishments may be classified in one of three categories:

  1. shipment transiting in their container of origin. Shipments are containerized and sealed (official seal of competent authority) in the country of origin. The container and seal number are entered on the OMIC. The same containers are then shipped through the United States to Canada, by rail or road. These containers must arrive in the Canadian meat import inspection establishment in the same transport container and be sealed with the official seal indicated on the OMIC
  2. shipment trans-loaded in the United States. Shipments are containerized and sealed in the country of origin. The container and seal number are entered on the OMIC. In United States ports, the shipments are trans-loaded to another transport container for transport to Canada
  3. shipment containerized in the United States. Shipments are not containerized in the country of origin; instead they are loaded directly into the ship's hold. In United States ports they are containerized for transport to Canada and sealed by US-CBP. Lack of container and official seal numbers on the OMICs from Australia and New Zealand should be interpreted as an indication that the shipment was not containerized in the country of origin and was shipped in bulk, in ship's hold, as far as the United States

If the seals are broken at the border, the inspector must re-seal the transport container and the seal number must be entered on the IIR before the shipment is allowed to go forward to a registered establishment.

For import inspection facility establishments who have developed and maintain applicable written PCP verification receiving procedures, these must audited by the Inspector on a pre-determined frequency. The procedures should identify a designated plant employee who has been authorized by the inspector to verify records and remove official seals from transport containers. It is further recognized that the Inspector is to be notified of any discrepancy between the transport container seal number on the official documents (OMIC, Transport and Export Form no. 7512 of the United States Customs endorsed Bill of lading) and the one observed on the transport container prior to the removal of the replacement seal.

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