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Regulatory requirements for recognizing foreign systems for meat products and live or raw shellfish (Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Part 7)

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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1.0 Introduction

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) uses different risk management actions to control the risks related to imported food. These actions help to target inspection resources and verify the compliance of importers with Canadian requirements relating to imported food. Risk management actions can occur:

In general, as per the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, the CFIA may conduct foreign state assessments/audits for the following reasons:

The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization requires each member state to accept as equivalent the inspection system of another state if that state objectively demonstrates that its measures achieve the importing state's appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection. To approve the foreign state's inspection system, the CFIA follows the Codex guidelines on the judgment of equivalence of sanitary measures associated with food inspection and certification systems.

Part 7 of the SFCR sets out requirements for a foreign state to request that the CFIA recognize its inspection system for meat products and live or raw shellfish in order for such food commodities to be allowed to be imported into Canada. Recognition is granted when the foreign state has at least the same level of protection as that provided under the SFCA and SFCR.

2.0 Application for recognition of inspection system

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: section 170 (1)

The CFIA may grant recognition to a foreign state for their inspection system for meat products or live or raw shellfish if that inspection system provides at least the same level of protection as that provided by the SFCA and SFCR.

Keep in mind

For the purposes of Part 7, shellfish does not include the adductor muscles of scallops or the meat of geoducks.

What this means for you

Specific criteria are outlined below to help understand these requirements. In addition, key terms throughout the text have also been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Contents of application: section 170 (2)

The authorized representative of a foreign state may make an application in writing for the recognition of its inspection system to the CFIA (Director, Food Import and Export Division). The application must include the following information:

The CFIA must recognize the inspection system in respect of which the application is made if the system provides at least the same level of protection as that provided by the provisions of the Act and these Regulations. In practice, the CFIA will send a questionnaire to the foreign state to obtain additional information to evaluate the foreign inspection system. The following information is taken into account by the CFIA:

Recognition by Minister: section 170 (3)

Taking into account the information that is provided with the application as well as any other relevant information, the CFIA must recognize the inspection system relating to meat products or live or raw shellfish if the system provides at least the same level of protection as that provided by the provisions of the SFCA and SFCR.

Keep in mind

As a matter of policy, CFIA may periodically reassess the inspection system to confirm that the system continues to provide at least the same level of protection as the provisions of the SFCA and SFCR.

3.0 Application for recognition of a system relating to meat products used in an establishment

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: section 171 (1)

When a foreign state's meat inspection system for meat products has been recognized by the CFIA, the foreign state may make an application to the CFIA in writing for the recognition of the following systems that are used in an establishment that is subject to the recognized meat inspection system:

Keep in mind

Section 171 applies to systems of one or more of the foregoing listed activities in relation to meat products used in a foreign establishment that is subject to the foreign state's recognized inspection system for meat products.

What this means for you

Specific criteria are outlined below to help you understand these requirements. In addition, key terms throughout the text have also been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Contents of application: Section 171 (2)

When the foreign country submits an application for recognition of a system used in an establishment relating to meat products, it must include the following information:

Recognition by Minister: Section 171 (3)

When an application for recognition of a system for the listed specific activities in relation to meat products is made, the CFIA must recognize the system if:

Keep in mind

As per SFCR section 106 (1) (c), any establishment where the live or raw shellfish was manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged or labelled has, at the time that the activity is conducted and at the time of the import, a system for manufacturing, preparing, storing, packaging or labelling, as the case may be, that complies with an inspection system for live or raw shellfish that is recognized under section 170 (1).

As a matter of policy, CFIA may periodically review the recognition of systems at an establishment to confirm that the establishment continues to operate under the recognized inspection system.

4.0 Suspension of recognition

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: section 172

The recognition of an inspection system of a foreign state must be suspended by the CFIA if the foreign state fails to notify the CFIA as soon as feasible of any changes regarding the inspection system or if that system is found to no longer provide at least the same level of protection as that provided by the provisions of the SFCA and SFCR.

The CFIA must also suspend the recognition of a system used in a meat establishment if the system does not meet the foreign state's requirements or if some shipments of meat products have been found non-compliant with the SFCA, SFCR, Food and Drugs Act or Food and Drug Regulations within a specific period of time as set out in section 172(2)(b)(i) and (ii). It must also be suspended if the system is no longer subject to the foreign state's inspection system, or the recognition of the foreign state's inspection system to which the system is subject has been suspended. The SFCR provides for a possible reinstatement of recognition in certain specific cases (s.172 (5)).

Keep in mind

For purposes of Part 7, shellfish does not include the adductor muscles of scallops or the meat of geo ducks.

What this means for you

Specific criteria are outlined below to help understand these requirements. In addition, key terms throughout the text have also been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Suspension of recognition of an inspection system: section 172 (1)

The CFIA must suspend the recognition of a foreign state's inspection system for meat products or live or raw shellfish if:

Suspension of recognition of a system relating to meat products used in an establishment: section 172 (2)

Keep in mind

This section applies to recognized systems of one or more of the following listed activities in relation to meat products used in a foreign establishment that is subject to the foreign state's recognized inspection system for meat products.

This section only applies to recognized systems used in foreign establishments with the following activities relating to meat products:

The CFIA must suspend the recognition of a foreign state's system used in an establishment if one or more of the following happens:

Notification of suspension and effective date: section 172 (3) and (4)

The CFIA send a written notice (email or letter) to the foreign state that outlines:

Reinstatement of recognition; section 172 (5)

In regard to the recognition of a system relating to meat products used in an establishment, the CFIA must reinstate the recognition if the circumstances giving rise to the suspension have been remedied. Depending on the circumstances, this could be achieved by:

The CFIA must notify the foreign state in writing that the recognition is no longer suspended.

5.0 Cancellation of recognition

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: section 173

The CFIA must cancel the recognition of an inspection system, or the recognition of a system used in an establishment relating to meat products, in certain circumstances such as an unresolved suspension, no exported products of the relevant commodity for a period of time or if the foreign state requests a cancellation.

Keep in mind

For purposes of Part 7, shellfish does not include the adductor muscles of scallops or the meat of geo ducks.

What this means for you

Specific criteria are outlined below to help you understand these requirements. In addition, key terms throughout the text have also been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Cancellation of recognition of an inspection system; section 173 (1)

The CFIA will cancel the recognition of a foreign state's inspection system for meat products or live or raw shellfish if:

Cancellation of recognition of a system relating to meat products used in an establishment: section 173 (2)

Keep in mind

This section applies to recognized systems in relation to meat products used in foreign establishments that is subject to the foreign state's recognized inspection system for meat products.

The CFIA will cancel the recognition of a recognized system used in an establishment if:

Notification of cancellation and effective date: section 173 (3) and (4)

The CFIA must send a written notice (email or letter) of the cancellation to the foreign state that outlines:

Keep in mind

If a foreign state wants to re-apply for recognition of a cancelled inspection system, the CFIA will treat the re-application as a new application for recognition of an inspection system. This means that all steps in sections 2.0 Application for recognition of inspection system and 3.0 Application for recognition of system would need to be completed by the foreign state if its system or that of an establishment relating to meat products is to be recognized again by Canada for purposes of importing meat or live or raw shellfish.

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