Food Investigation Response Manual
10.0 Recall Orders


A recall order may be issued by the Minister of Health in circumstances where a recalling firm is unknown, unavailable or unwilling to conduct a voluntary recall. In these circumstances the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act provides the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with a legislative base for taking appropriate action to remove the product from sale or use.

This section includes:

  • The description and conditions for use (10.1);
  • The legal authority for a mandatory recall (10.2);
  • The decision process to implement a mandatory recall (10.3); and
  • The Roles and Responsibilities: the implementation process (10.4).

10.1 Description and Conditions for Use

A recall order is signed by the Minister and served on a person(s) or recalling firm(s) who sells, markets or distributes a product that is believed, on reasonable grounds, to pose a risk to public, animal or plant health. This order is in effect a mandatory recall; it is designed to address the situation where the regulated party cannot be located, communicated with or does not wish to issue a voluntary recall. In order for a recall to proceed, the product must be:

  1. specific and identified; and
  2. regulated under any of the following Acts:

    Canada Agricultural Products Act, Health of Animals Act, Plant Protection Act, Meat Inspection Act, Fish Inspection Act, Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act, Seeds Act, Food and Drugs Act (in relation to food only), Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (in relation to food only).

10.2 Legal Authority

Section 19 of the CFIA Act sets out the legal authority for a mandatory recall.

10.2.1 Recall order:

19. (1)
Where the Minister believes on reasonable grounds that a product regulated under an Act or provision that the CFIA enforces or administers by virtue of section 11 poses a risk to public, animal or plant health, the Minister may, by notice served on any person selling, marketing or distributing the product, order that the product be recalled or sent to a place designated by the Minister.

10.2.2 Contravention of recall order:

Any person who contravenes a recall order referred to in subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both.

10.2.3 Notification of order:

For greater certainty, a recall order is not a statutory instrument for the purposes of the Statutory Instruments Act, but no person shall be convicted of an offence referred to in subsection (2) unless the person was notified of the order.

10.3 Decision to Implement a Mandatory Recall

A mandatory recall order is a risk management option which can be implemented when the recalling firm is not willing or able to recall a product that is considered to pose a risk to public, animal or plant health.

CFIA senior executives and the Senior Food Safety Committee must be kept informed of a potential recall order early in the process and updated as often as necessary. Key contacts should be identified and consulted throughout the decision making process. CFIA Legal Services provides advice on whether the legal conditions for a recall order have been met and the mandatory recall can proceed.

10.4 Mandatory Recall Procedure

  • The Executive Director, Office of Food Safety and Recall (ED, OFSR) initiates the process.
  • The OFSR provides information to CFIA Legal Services.
  • The OFSR reviews and updates CFIA Legal Services and requests a legal opinion.
  • The ED, OFSR decides to proceed with a mandatory recall.
    • The OFSR consults with (for support and execution):
      • CFIA Legal Services;
      • Ministerial and Parliamentary Affairs;
      • Media Relations;
      • Communications;
      • Program Specialist;
      • Area Recall Coordinator (ARC) / Regional Recall Coordinator (RRC);
      • Lead Investigator;
      • Technical Specialist;
      • Operation Strategy and Delivery;
      • Senior Management including the Senior Food Safety Committee.
  • Inspection staff inform the firm that the recall process has been started.
  • CFIA Legal Services drafts the order.
  • CFIA Legal Services assists in dealing with firm's lawyers.
  • The OFSR drafts a Memo to Minister (MTM) that includes the risk assessment and the legal opinion.
  • The OFSR sends the MTM to the President for signature. The President recommends the recall order to the Minister of Health and sends the MTM.
  • CFIA Legal Services completes the draft recall order and sends it for translation.
  • Ministerial and Parliamentary Affairs deliver the recall order "hard copies" (EN and FR) to the Minister for signature.
  • Ministerial and Parliamentary Affairs return the signed copies of the recall order to Legal Services for certification.
  • The OFSR keeps the signed recall order (certified signed copies).
  • The OFSR prepares and issues the public warning/press release.
  • The OFSR faxes the certified signed recall order to the Lead Investigator.
  • Inspection staff "serve/deliver" the recall order:
    1. When the company is available: the company does the recall.
    2. When the company is not available or is unknown, the CFIA serves the order to distributors and/or retailers.
  • CFIA Legal Services and Area EIS are consulted if there is any refusal to implement the recall order.
  • The CFIA might be required to "implement" the recall and can request assistance from Provincial authorities including Municipal Public Health Units, if needed.
  • CFIA Area operation inspection staff monitor the progress of the recall and assesses its effectiveness. The CFIA verification process is modified as required.
  • At any time, the mandatory recall process can be stopped with the approval of the ED, OFSR.
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