Understanding the Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: A Handbook for Food Businesses
Purpose of the handbook
1. The handbook provides a general overview of the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) to help you
- review and navigate through the proposed regulations, and
- understand how it could impact your business.
Every effort has been made to make this handbook accurate, helpful and reflective of the SFCR published in Canada Gazette, Part I.
2. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has gathered feedback on the regulations to be made under the Safe Food for Canadians Act through consultations from 2013 to 2015. Your feedback has prompted the development of this handbook, including the frequently asked questions found throughout.
3. The handbook is for food businesses, including exporters and importers, who would need to comply with the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) when they come into force.
4. The proposed regulations to support the Safe Food for Canadians Act are intended to cover imported, exported, and inter-provincially (food that crosses a provincial border) traded food products. However, some provisions of the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the proposed SFCR also apply intra-provincially (food that does not cross a provincial border).
Improving food safety in Canada
5. The safety of food is vital to all consumers and food businesses. Consumers want to be confident that the food they buy and eat is what they expect, and that it will cause them no harm. Consumer confidence is very important for food businesses.
6. Food safety affects all Canadians. It is the responsibility of anyone who is importing, exporting, preparing, manufacturing, storing, packaging, or labelling food, no matter how large or small the business, to ensure their activity has not compromised the safety of the food.
7. As a food business, you should familiarize yourself with the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). The SFCA received royal assent (became law in Canada) in November 2012. It establishes a modern and robust legislative framework for the safety of food commodities. The Act, which will fully come into force when the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are adopted, marks an important first step in the transformation of Canada's food safety system.
8. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are needed to:
- respond to globalization of the food supply, new processing methods and changing consumer demands, and
- help Canadian food businesses remain competitive internationally and maintain access to foreign markets.
9. By merging 14 sets of existing food regulations into a single set of regulations, the proposed SFCR would:
- improve consistency of rules across all foods, and between food businesses
- reduce unnecessary administrative burden
- enable food businesses to be innovative through outcome-based provisions
A list of the 14 sets of regulations that would be merged into the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are found in Annex A.
How would my business benefit?
10. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are aligned with internationally recognized standards, such as CODEX Alimentarius, for food safety and consumer protection requirements.
As a result of these proposed regulations, food businesses would be better able to:
- use innovative technology
- prevent food safety outbreaks
- rapidly remove unsafe food from the market when incidents occur
Roles and responsibilities
11. As a food business that would be subject to the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), you would be responsible for the following:
- ensuring food you prepare domestically, import, or export is safe and meets the regulatory requirements
- ensuring food is of a nature, substance and quality expected by consumers
- ensuring food is labelled, advertised and presented in a way that is not false or misleading and meets the regulatory requirements
12. It is the role of the CFIA to:
- verify compliance with regulatory requirements through inspection and surveillance activities
- take appropriate compliance and enforcement action, as deemed appropriate, when non-compliance is found
- assist food businesses in understanding how to comply with all applicable federal food regulations
13. The current provincial and territorial requirements as they relate to food in their jurisdictions are outside the scope of the proposed SFCR. Provincial and territorial authorities will continue to enforce their applicable legislation.
What other federal legislation would the CFIA apply to food?
14. Once the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) is fully in force, two federal legislative regimes would apply to food in Canada:
- The Food and Drugs Act (and the Food and Drug Regulations), will continue to apply to all food sold in Canada.
- The SFCA and the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations would mainly apply to food that is imported, exported and traded inter-provincially (between provinces). However, some traceability provisions in Part 5 and labelling provisions found in Part 11, Division 2 would apply to food traded intra-provincially (food that does not cross a provincial border). Refer to item 114 and item 144.
15. Together, the Food and Drug Regulations and the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations would provide a complete suite of legislation designed to promote consumer confidence in the safety of food sold in Canada.
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