Language selection


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 may apply 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 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:

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 email account. For shipments of meat refused entry, the Area Import Specialist must forward the following information to the FIED:

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

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

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

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

For meat shipments that are to be removed:

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

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:

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).

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: