Proposed Regulations for Certain Imported Foods

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The Need for Change

Canada imports food from more than 190 countries and many of our domestic food products are made from imported ingredients. While the existing food safety system protects Canadians well, improvements will help to better respond to risks in the increasingly complex global marketplace.

As part of the Government of Canada's commitment to food safety in the Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is proposing new regulations under the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA) for certain imported food products.

The new regulations would

  • strengthen the accountability of food importers for the safety of their products by requiring them to develop preventive food safety control plans;
  • allow the CFIA to better identify and engage importers through a licensing regime; and
  • improve importers' ability to quickly identify, respond to and advise the CFIA of potentially unsafe imported food.

Proposed regulatory requirements

Under the proposal, importers would be required to have a licence from the CFIA. A user fee is proposed for the import licence. The fee would be administered through the CFIA Fees Notice under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act.

In order to be licensed, importers would have to develop, implement and maintain a written Preventive Food Safety Control Plan. The plan would outline the actions and measures that the importer takes to make sure their food is safe and complies with Canadian legislation.

In addition, the importer would have to

  • maintain records at an address in Canada
  • have a written recall plan
  • notify the CFIA within 24 hours if they become aware that a product poses a hazard to consumers

Affected food importers

The proposed regulations would apply to certain agricultural products, as defined in the CAPA, such as, but not limited to

  • bakery products
  • beverages
  • biological additives such as bakers' and brewers' yeast
  • coffee and tea
  • confectionery/chocolate
  • fats and oils
  • grains, breads and cereals
  • infant formula
  • juices
  • meal replacements and formulated liquid diets
  • snack foods
  • spices and seasonings

Different types of importing businesses that may be subject to the new regulations and that may require a licence include

  • food manufacturers and importers
  • retailers
  • brokers
  • distributors
  • some domestic producers and food processors
  • shipping services

To find out if your imported food product may be affected by the proposed new regulations, visit

Proposed import licence

Only one licence would be required per importer, regardless of the number of products imported. As a condition of the licence, however, the importer is responsible for ensuring that their Preventive Food Safety Control Plan covers all the products that they import into Canada under the new regulations.

The proposed new licensing regime is not intended to replace any existing licensing program administered by the Government of Canada. Importers who hold a licence or registration issued under another legislation enforced by the CFIA, but who also import food products under the new regulations, would require this new licence.

Get informed, get involved

The CFIA welcomes your input and feedback. Stakeholders will have several opportunities to comment on the regulatory proposal including

  • consultations on a user fee proposal for the licensing cost and regime; and
  • consultations on the proposed new regulations, when published in Canada Gazette, Part I.

All food importers are encouraged to sign up to the Non-Federally Registered Sector listserv to receive email notifications on the forthcoming proposed new regulations and other relevant news.

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