Dairy Import Activities
1.1 Background

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The mandate of CFIA's Dairy Import Program is to ensure that dairy products being imported into Canada are safe, wholesome, and accurately labelled to avoid misleading consumers.

The Dairy Import Program has been developed in accordance with the Dairy Products Regulations (DPR), the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations (FDA/R) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations (CPLA/R). The Dairy Import Program uses a science based approach for hazard identification and risk analysis to prioritize inspection activities and determine their frequencies.

In the DPR, section 2.2 requires that any dairy product marketed in import trade as food be edible, not contaminated and be prepared in a sanitary manner. All other requirements of the FDA/R and the CPLA/R must be met.

Section 26 of the DPR requires that no person import any dairy product unless the dairy products originate in a country that has standards for dairy products that are at least equivalent to those set out in these regulations and a system of inspection for dairy products and for establishments that prepare them that is at least equivalent to that in Canada. The imported dairy product must also bear a label with all information required and be accompanied by a properly completed import declaration.

In addition to product description and information about the manufacturer, exporter, importer and consignee, section 26.(1)(f)(vii) of the DPR states that the import declaration must include a statement that the dairy product:

  1. was obtained from sound raw materials in accordance with good manufacturing practices,
  2. was prepared in a sanitary manner,
  3. in the case of a low-acid dairy product, was subjected to a thermal process that assures commercial sterility,
  4. originated in a country that has
    1. standards for dairy products that are at least equivalent to those set out in the DPR, and
    2. a system for the inspection of dairy products and of establishments that prepare dairy products that is at least equivalent to that in Canada,
  5. was, at the time of shipment, sound and edible,
  6. is accurately identified as to the name and address of the manufacturer or the manufacturer's authorized agent,
  7. is accurately described in the import declaration and does not contain any ingredients other than those permitted by the DPR, and
  8. meets the grade, container and labelling requirements of the DPR.

The Dairy Import Program was reviewed and enhanced in response to the CFIA's National Import Control Policy (NICP). This policy is based on risk analysis and emphasizes the responsibilities of the importers. The NICP has been developed for all CFIA programs to address the growing demands of global commerce and consumer preferences. The six elements that constitute the import control policy framework are:

  • foreign equivalency / certification;
  • point of entry control;
  • tracking and informatics;
  • importer Quality Management Systems (IQMS);
  • inspection program; and
  • new technology.

1.1.1 Dairy Program Partners / Stakeholders

The Dairy Program works in collaboration with various internal and external partners and stakeholders to design, manage, and deliver effective dairy import controls. These are briefly presented in Appendix 1 to provide a better understanding of the Dairy Import Program environment. In conjunction with its partners, the Dairy Program performs environmental scans to identify emerging issues and then evaluates whether they have any impact on the import program.

1.1.2 Importer's Responsibilities

To enable entry of dairy products into Canada, the importer must meet the requirements of the CFIA's Terrestrial Animal Health Division and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). These authorities should be contacted for information on import permits, requirements, and tariff quotas. Additional information on the CFIA's import requirements for specific products can be found by using the CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).

The importer has to be able to demonstrate that the dairy products imported are safe and meet the Canadian regulatory requirements as declared on the Import Declaration statement. Detailed information regarding the product(s) imported, including information about the supplier, manufacturer or exporter are required. As well, the importer must demonstrate that safe food handling procedures are in place at the importer's facility (see Section 1.6.3 Importer Verification for details).

An importer has the responsibility to accurately describe the imported product. Where an imported dairy product does not meet the Canadian labelling requirements, the importer is responsible for informing the CFIA of his intention to relabel the product. The importer indicates on the import declaration that the product is for Relabelling and attaches a letter of commitment to correct the labelling to the import declaration and presents it to the Import Service Centre/Canada Custom with the other documents at the time of entry. The Customs Transaction Number (bar coded figure) is identified on the letter to provide a link between the letter of commitment and the shipment. The product is properly relabelled at the importer's location in a timely manner to avoid distribution of mislabelled product. If commitment is not respected, permission to import further lots for relabelling could be denied.

The importer's (or legally delegated agent's) signature on the Import Declaration (Appendix 2) is an acknowledgment of the importer's responsibility to ensure that the imported dairy products meet all the Canadian requirements.

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