ARCHIVED - Strengthened Oversight of Imports under the Proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations

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Background

  • The proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations would introduce food safety and licensing requirements for importers in the Imported Food Sector to enable better identification of unsafe foods and ingredients, and allow the CFIA to identify and engage importers
  • Food safety is a priority of the Government of Canada and the proposed regulations are a key element to fulfill the Prime Minister's Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan announced in 2007
    • an important building block for the Agency's food safety agenda
    • in-line with Canada's key trading partners (US, EU and Australia/New Zealand) that have implemented similar requirements and/or licensing regimes at the importer level
  • These proposed regulations mark the first stage of the Agency's Regulatory Modernization initiative, moving towards a new and improved inspection model, and the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA)
    • will continue forward with the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan and through regulations drafted under the SFCA

CFIA's Change Agenda

  • The CFIA has embarked on a change and modernization agenda, propelled by the new Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA), with a focus on: stronger food safety rules; more effective inspection; commitment to service; and more information for consumers.
  • The SFCA is the cornerstone of CFIA's sweeping change agenda, that will help bring about legislative change aimed at promoting safer food and better protection to optimize the health and safety of Canadians and make Canadian businesses more competitive globally. Key change agenda initiatives include:
    • Inspection Modernization;
    • Food Regulatory Modernization;
    • Food Labelling Modernization;
    • Compliance Promotion; and
    • Food Safety Action Plan's Import Licensing.

Imported Food Sector (IFS)

Click on image for larger view
This image shows how different food commodities are currently covered by different Acts and Regulations and how they will be covered in the future. Description follows.

Description for image - Imported Food Sector

This image shows how different food commodities are currently covered by different Acts and Regulations and how they will be covered in the future.

Section 1 lists the following food commodities: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, maple products, processed egg and processed products. These commodities currently fall under the Meat Inspection Act, the Fish Inspection Act and the Canada Agricultural Products Act and their associated regulations. They will eventually be brought under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and will be regulated under the future Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

Section 2 shows examples of commodities in the Non-Federally Registered Sector that meet the definition of an agricultural product. These include: grain products, beverages, confectionary/chocolate, spices, seasonings and dried herbs, vegetable fats and oils, infant formula and meal replacements and snack foods. These commodities currently fall under the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and will also fall under the proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations if the proposed regulations are passed. Under the proposed regulations these foods would require an importer to hold a valid import licence to import into Canada. These commodities will also eventually be brought under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the future regulations under that Act.

Section 3 shows examples of commodities in the Non-Federally Registered Sector that do not meet the definition of an agricultural product. These include: bottled water, synthetic colours and salts. These commodities currently fall under the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act but will not fall under the proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations. They will eventually be brought under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the future regulations under that Act.

IFS Trends

  • The IFS is vast, imports are received from over 190 countries many of whom have food safety systems in very formative stages of development
    • "Risks are no longer confined within our borders, and the Agency must face the challenge and focus its resources where the risk is greatest and where there is the greatest net benefit to Canadians" CFIA website
  • Of the estimated 25,000 importers, 96% are micro or small in size but collectively import transactions for the whole sector are valued at over $1 Billion dollars/month with 50,000 transactions/month

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This image shows the number of import transactions by program. Description follows.

Description for graphs - Imported food sector trends

In 2009-2010 there were

  • 7,825 import transactions for the Egg Program,
  • 29,687 for the Dairy Program, 42,088 for the Fish Program,
  • 66,545 for the Meat Program,
  • 89,147 for the Processed Products Program,
  • 335,645 for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, and
  • 295,922 for the Imported and Manufactured Food Program.

In 2010-2011 there were

  • 7,969 import transactions for the Egg Program,
  • 33,811 for the Dairy Program, 44,253 for the Fish Program,
  • 74,130 for the Meat Program,
  • 96,372 for the Processed Products Program,
  • 352,370 for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, and
  • 394,768 for the Imported and Manufactured Food Program.

In 2011-2012 there were

  • 8,545 import transactions for the Egg Program,
  • 27,610 for the Dairy Program,
  • 47,175 for the Fish Program,
  • 71,999 for the Meat Program,
  • 107,039 for the Processed Products Program,
  • 363,931 for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, and
  • 563,976 for the Imported and Manufactured Food Program.

In 2011-2012 there were 1,190,275 import transactions across all food business lines. Of these transactions

  • 1% were for Egg, 2% for Dairy,
  • 4% for Fish, 6% for Meat,
  • 9% for Processed Products,
  • 31% for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, and
  • 41% for the Imported and Manufactured Foods.

Regulatory Requirements

  • The proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations will require importers to meet certain general and licensing requirements to import IFS products into Canada

General Requirements

  • Notify the CFIA within 24 hours of determining that a food safety hazard exists
  • Develop, establish and maintain a written recall plan to help identify and remove products of concern from the Canadian marketplace quickly and efficiently
  • Maintain records associated with the imported products, as well as those related to the recall plan and the Preventive Food Safety Control Plan (PFSCP)

Licensing Requirements

  • Complete an application for an IFS licence
  • Licence holders must have, implement and maintain a written PFSCP and demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures to reduce food safety risks

Collection of the CRA Business Number

  • An IFS licence application will require applicants to provide key identifying information. To follow government best practices, and to use a unique identifier, the regulatory proposal requires applicants to provide their CRA Business Number.
  • Question 1: Are there any concerns with the requirement to provide this piece of information? If so, what is the nature of the concern and how might it be resolved?

Proposed IFS Licence

  • Under the proposed regulations an IFS licence number will be required with each shipment of goods
  • Electronic application through the CFIA Licence Management System
  • Licence will apply to entities, not establishments
    • current draft – one licence per legal entity
  • No fee per shipment
  • No limit on number of shipments
  • Licence is valid for 2 years
  • Proposed Cost of $259 for 2013/14

Click on image for larger view
This image shows what an imported food sector licence may look like. Description follows.

Description for image - Proposed Imported food sector licence

This image shows what an imported food sector licence may look like. Sections of the licence include who the licence is issued to, the licence number, the date it is issued and its expiry date.

Number of Licences per Legal Entity

  • An applicant for an IFS licence may only hold one licence per their legal entity in the current draft. Consideration is being given as to whether legal entities should be allowed to hold multiple licences based on distinct operating names
  • Considerations:
    • An applicant for an IFS licence may only hold one licence per their legal entity in the current draft. Consideration is being given as to whether legal entities should be allowed to hold multiple licences based on distinct operating names
    • Considerations:
      • allowing an unlimited number of licences dilutes enforcement abilities (i.e., cancellation of one licence is rendered meaningless if they also have other IFS licences)
      • some larger importers have cautioned that the risks and logistics associated with only having one licence for their operation are significant and unmanageable
      • enforcement of multiple licences issued per operating name can be managed through the legal name of the licence holder as well as their CRA Business Number
  • Question 2: Is there support for allowing one legal entity to hold more than one IFS licence for different branches of their operation? Please identify any concerns with this approach

Proposed Implementation: Providing Flexibility to Industry

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This image is a timeline showing the regulatory process, moving left to right. Description follows.

Description for image - Proposed Implementation: Providing Flexibility to Industry

This image is a timeline showing the regulatory process, moving left to right.

The timeline starts with drafting the regulations. This is followed by pre-publication in Canada Gazette, Part I.

Between Canada Gazette, Part I and publication in Canada Gazette, Part II there is a 75-day comment period.

After publication in Canada Gazette, Part II the regulations come into force. This is followed by a compliance promotion and education period, after which enforcement comes into effect.

  • The coming-into-force of the proposed regulations will begin with an Interim Compliance Promotion phase that will last for at least one year
  • Will allow large businesses time to develop new models and agreements
  • Will allow time for small and medium enterprises to :
    • become aware of their obligations and familiarize themselves with the appropriate legislation;
    • comply with the regulatory requirements; and
    • obtain a licence

Engagement Approach

  • Consulting with importers to better understand their issues and needs, especially micro and small-sized importers
  • Working with partners to identify opportunities to assist importers under this regulatory proposal to build capacity to develop and implement a PFSCP
  • Developing guidance documents to help industry meet the regulatory requirements
  • Strong service oriented approach through the use of an electronic client interface for licence applicants

Supporting Resources

The following resources will help support industry to meet the regulatory requirements immediately:
Resource Regulatory Requirement
Interpretation General Recall Plan Record Keep Licensing Preventative Food Safety Control Plan
A Guide to Identifying Food Products Affected by the Proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations Yes Yes
Automated Import Reference System Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Codex's Recommended International Code of Practice Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Food Recalls: Make a Plan and Action It! Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
General Principles of Food Hygiene, Composition and Labelling Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Good Importing Practices for Food Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guide to Food Safety Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Listserve for periodic updates
www.inspection.gc.ca/importedfood
Yes
In addition to the resources that will be available immediately, the following resources will help support industry to meet the regulatory requirements at coming-into-force:
Regulatory Requirement Resource
All provisions of the regulations Importer's Guide
Licensing Preventive Food Safety Control Plan models

Licence application and technical support from the Importer Licensing Unit

Preventive Food Safety Control Plan Preventive Food Safety Control Plan models

Question 3: What other tools or forms of support should the CFIA make available to help industry meet the regulatory requirements?

Engagement Activities

  • Targeted discussions have been, and continue to be held with industry, a working group has been formed with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure system interoperability and smooth implementation
  • Publication in Canada Gazette, Part I, will launch a formal 75-day comment period
  • 17-city Agency overview of the regulatory clauses
  • Multi-lingual information materials in development recognizing the cultural diversity within the import sector

Feedback

By email: CFIA-Modernisation-ACIA@inspection.gc.ca

By mail:
Strategic Partnerships Division
1400 Merivale Road, Tower 1
Floor 6, suite 218
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
Canada
Attn: Imported Food Sector Product Regulations

By fax: 613-773-5606

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