A New Regulatory Framework for Federal Food Inspection: Discussion Document

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Recent decades have seen significant changes in the global food environment. An increasingly global marketplace for food commodities, including agricultural products, means that there are increased opportunities for the introduction and spread of contaminants, including pathogens and new diseases in Canada. With advances in science and technology have come new and innovative food commodities and processes as well as increased capacity to detect food safety risks, at the same time that the ageing of the Canadian population is changing the food risk environment. Global commerce has also led to new business models and consolidation in the food and agricultural industries that have effectively changed the makeup of the parties regulated by the CFIA. The CFIA document entitled The Improved Food Inspection Model: The Case for Change more fully describes the changing global food safety environment.

In response to these developments governments around the world are rethinking their approaches to food safety and consumer protection, including renewing legislative frameworks, applying systems approaches to inspection and better leveraging oversight resources. At the same time, the food industry is pioneering new approaches to traceability and third party certification systems, investing in innovative approaches to making food safer and taking a greater role in managing some areas of trade.

Canada requires a food safety system capable of continuous improvement that evolves with new food safety practices, technology, and other developments in industry to deliver the best possible protection for Canadians from food safety risks. The vision of the proposed regulatory framework is a system that:

  • confirms industry responsibility for safe food commodities and requires globally-recognized HACCP-based approaches best designed to deliver safe food commodities;
  • provides industry with flexibility and the potential opportunity for innovation in terms of food safety approaches within facilities;
  • enables a more risk-based approach to inspection of food commodities and establishments regulated under the SFCA that pose the greatest risk for consumers;
  • enables regulated parties and CFIA to rapidly mitigate emerging food safety risks;
  • reflects international standards;
  • facilitates alignment with provincial/territorial governments and international trading partners, in particular, the United States, thereby supporting market access;
  • moves away from prescriptive to outcome-based regulations, where appropriate;
  • enables the CFIA to apply consistent regulatory requirements and inspection approaches across all federally regulated food commodities; and,
  • addresses non-food safety requirements in a more consistent and efficient manner.

The following are elements of the proposed regulatory framework under the SFCA. The scope of this review largely applies to food that is imported, exported, or prepared for trade across provincial borders. Release of this document represents the start of a broad discussion with all stakeholders, including domestic producers, processors, exporters, importers and consumers, as well as with provincial and territorial regulatory partners, and foreign governments. Final positions have not been taken by the CFIA and additional elements of the proposed regulatory framework are still to be developed. As such, engagement is essential in shaping the future regulations and CFIA welcomes feedback on the proposed regulatory approaches.

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