Regulatory requirements: Licensing

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

On this page

1.0 Introduction

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) provide the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with the ability to issue licences to food businesses, authorizing them to conduct one or more activities, These regulations also allow the CFIA to renew, amend, suspend or cancel a licence.

The ability to licence food businesses who import food into Canada, make food, or slaughter food animals for interprovincial trade or export provides the CFIA with:

  • a single, consistent approach to authorization;
  • an accurate and complete picture of who is involved in importing food into Canada or making food for inter-provincial trade or export;
  • the ability to collect of essential data to conduct oversight on the basis of risk.

The following provides an overview of the regulatory requirements on licensing, as found in Part 3, Division 1 of the SFCR.

2.0 The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's authority to issue, renew or amend a licence

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Sections 26 and 27

Rationale

These sections of the SFCR define the scope of food commodities and activities for which the CFIA may issue a licence. Licensing allows CFIA to authorize a food business to conduct an activity and, where relevant, to attach specific conditions to those activities.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Sections 26 and 27: Food commodities and activities for which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency may issue a licence.

  • The CFIA has the authority to issue a licence to a person, including a company or corporation, conducting one or more of the following activities:
    • import of food;
    • export of food;
    • manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package or label of food to be sent or conveyed from one province or territory to another or to be exported;
    • storing of food to be sent or conveyed from one province or territory to another or to be exported;
    • slaughter of food animals to export or to send or convey from one province or territory to another the meat product derived from the food animal.
    • storing and handling of a food in its imported condition for the purpose of inspection by the CFIA;
    • export of a food commodity that is not considered food in Canada but is intended for human consumption in a foreign state, and for which an export certificate is required by a competent authority in that foreign state;
    • for the purpose of export, the manufacturing, processing, treating, preserving, grading, packaging or labelling of a food commodity that is not considered a food in Canada but is intended for human consumption in a foreign state, and for which an export certificate is required by a competent authority in that foreign state.

Resource:

3.0 Licence application

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Section 28 and Paragraph 29(1)(e)

Rationale

Under the SFCR, CFIA uses an application process to issue, renew or amend licences to food businesses. The information collected during the application process allows the CFIA to develop a profile for each licence holder, including their contact information, the type of food, or food commodity and the activities that they conduct on the food or food commodity. This profile helps the CFIA to better plan inspections based on risk.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 28 and Paragraph 29(1)(e): Application for the issuance, renewal or amendment of a licence.

  • To obtain, renew or amend your licence, you are required to submit an application to the CFIA.
  • The information you submit in the application is required to be complete, truthful and not misleading.
  • In addition to completing the application form, you are also required to submit at least one proposed work shift for each establishment where you conduct one or more of the following activities:
  • The work shift for the slaughtering of food animals cannot exceed, the following:
    • 7.5 hours in one day, excluding meal times; and
    • 37.5 hours in one work week, excluding meal times
  • The work shift for manufacturing, processing, treating, preserving, grading, packaging or labelling a meat product or storing and handling an edible meat product in its imported condition must:
    • not exceed 7.5 hours in one day, excluding meal times;
    • not exceed 37.5 hours in one work week, excluding meal times
    • be between 6:00am and 6:00pm.

    Resource

4.0 Conditions for the issuance, renewal or amendment of a licence

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Sections 29 to 34

Rationale

There are conditions that need to be met before the CFIA can issue, renew or amend your licence. These conditions are there to make sure that food businesses:

  • provide the CFIA with information that is accurate,
  • are in good standing; and
  • are capable of making food that is safe for human consumption.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria, resources and examples are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Paragraphs 29 (1)(a), (b), (e) and (f): General conditions for issuing, renewing or amending a licence.

  • There are several requirements that the CFIA must consider before issuing, renewing or amending your licence. These requirements are:
    • You are in compliance with the requirements in Part 4 – Preventive Controls of the SFCR, regardless of whether or not you already have a licence. This applies to:
    • If you would like an export certificate to export a food commodity that you manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, label or stored for the purpose of human consumption in a foreign state:
      • the competent authority in that foreign state must have requested that you receive an export certificate from the CFIA, for that food commodity; and
      • that you meet the requirements of Part 4 – Preventive Controls of the SFCR, except for Division 3 – Treatment and Processes.

        Resource

    • Based on the information you provided on your application, the activity for which you requested a licence to be issued, renewed or amended is not considered to present a risk of injury to human health; and
    • The information in your application is complete, truthful and not misleading.
  • If you are in default of payment of one or more fees that is related to the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA), we will not issue a licence to you. These fees are fixed under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act.

    Resource

    • Refer to Fees Notice for more information on the fees related to the SFCA.

Paragraph 29(1)(c): Additional conditions for the issuance, renewal or amendment of a licence to import

  • In addition to the above requirements, if you would like the CFIA to issue, renew or amend your licence to import, you are required to carry out your business related to the food you import, from a fixed place of business that is:
    • in Canada; or
    • in a foreign state that has an inspection system for the food which the application is made:
      • that CFIA has recognized under Part 7 – Recognition of Foreign Systems of the SFCR. This applies only to meat products or live or raw shellfish; or
      • for the food for which the application is made, the CFIA has determined that the foreign state provides at least the same level of protection as that provided by the SFCA and the SFCR. This applies to food other than meat products or live or raw shellfish.

        Resource

Paragraph 29(1)(d): Additional condition for the issuance, renewal or amendment of a licence with respect to food animals and meat products

Section 30: Refusal to issue, renew or amend a licence

  • The CFIA may refuse to issue, renew or amend your licence if, in the last five years before you make an application, you or one of your directors or officers:
    • have had a licence suspended or cancelled; or
    • have been convicted of an offence under the SFCA or the Food and Drugs Act (FDA);
  • In addition, the CFIA may refuse to renew or amend your licence if you are in default of payment of any fee that is related to your licence. These fees are fixed under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act.

    Resource

    • Refer to Fees Notice for more information on the fees related to the SFCA.

Subsection 31(1): Location of activities associated with the licence

  • You are required to conduct all activities identified in your licence, other than importing and exporting, at the establishment(s) identified in your licence because those involve the movement of food across international borders and are, therefore, not considered to be conducted at establishments.

Section 31(2) and (3): Timeframe that activities can be conducted during work shift

  • Unless otherwise authorized by an inspector, if you conduct any of the following activities to food animals or meat products, you are required to do them during a work shift that was approved by the CFIA and during which inspection services are provided.
    • slaughter food animals;
    • manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package or label a meat product; or
    • store and handle an edible meat product in its imported condition.

      Note: An exception from the requirement for a work shift exists for the meat products described in Section 25, Part 2 – Trade, of the SFCR.

  • For slaughter of food animals, you may conduct the ante-mortem examination outside the work-shift.

    Resource

Section 32: Amendment of a licence due to your inability to conduct one or more activities identified in your licence

  • If you are unable to conduct one or more of the activities that you identified in your licence at the establishment(s) identified in your licence, the CFIA may amend your licence to remove your permission to conduct the activity at that particular establishment.
  • We will notify you in writing of this amendment and the date on which this amendment will takes place.

    Example

    • If there was a fire in the establishment where you conduct activities identified in your licence and it is no longer safe to continue, you are expected to amend your licence to remove the establishment and related activity from your licence. If you haven't amended your licence, the CFIA may amend your licence.

Section 33: Expiry of a licence

  • Your licence expires two years after the date on which it was issued or renewed, unless it has been cancelled before the expiry date. This expiry date is found on your licence.
  • If your licence is amended, the expiry date remains unchanged.

Section 34: Invalidity of a licence

  • If you no longer wish to have a valid licence, you can surrender your licence to the CFIA.
  • A licence cannot be surrendered if it is in the process of being cancelled by the CFIA
  • If you surrender your licence, it will become invalid.

In addition, subsection 20(5) of the SFCA does not allow you to transfer your licence to another person.

5.0 Suspension and cancellation of a licence

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Subsection 29(2) and sections 35 to 40

Rationale

The suspension of a licence is an option that may be used by the CFIA to allow a licence holder to maintain their licence while trying to address a non-compliance.

The cancellation of a licence is a final step used in situations where the licence holder is unable or unwilling to correct a non-compliance.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand, specific criteria and resources are provided below. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the SFCR glossary.

Section 35: Grounds for suspending a licence

  • The CFIA may suspend your licence if:
    • you do not comply with one or more of the requirements in the:
      • Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA)
      • Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
      • Food and Drugs Act (FDA); or
      • Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).
    • you are in default of payment of one or more fees that is related to your licence, The fees related to your licence are fixed in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act.

      Resource

      • Refer to Fees Notice for more information on the fees related to the SFCA.
    • The CFIA may suspend your licence if they are of the opinion that a risk of injury to human health may result if you continue to conduct one or more of the activities that are identified in your licence.

Section 36: Notification prior to suspending a licence

  • Before proceeding to suspend your licence, the CFIA will provide you with the following information:
    • a written report that explains the reason for suspension; and
    • the period of time within which you can take corrective action to avoid suspension.
  • The CFIA may suspend your licence if you do not take corrective action within the timeframe required to avoid suspension.
  • The CFIA will notify you in writing that your licence is suspended and the date on which it will be suspended.

Section 37: Grounds for immediate suspension

  • If the CFIA suspects that there is a risk of injury to human health if you continue to conduct an activity that is identified your licence, your licence may be suspended immediately after providing you with the written report that explains why your licence is being suspended.
  • The CFIA will notify you in writing that your licence is being suspended and that the suspension is immediate.

Section 38: Duration of suspension

  • The suspension of your licence will remain in effect until the CFIA:
    • determines that you have taken corrective action to address the reason for which the suspension was issued; and
    • lifts the suspension.

Subsection 29(2): Renewal of a suspended licence

  • The CFIA may renew your licence while it is under suspension if you are in compliance with the conditions for issuing, renewing or amending you licence. These conditions are found in subsection 29(1) of Part 3 – Licences, of the SFCR.
  • If the reason for suspending your licence was because of non-compliance with one or more of the requirements in paragraph 29(1)(b) of Part 3 – Licences of the SFCR, the CFIA may still renew your licence.

    Note: Paragraph 29(1)(b) of Part 3 – Licences of the SFCR specifies certain conditions that you are required to meet so that CFIA may issue, renew or amend your licence.

    Resource

  • Even though the CFIA renews your licence while it is under suspension, the suspension will remain in effect.

Section 39: Grounds for cancelling a licence

  • There are several reasons why the CFIA may cancel your licence. These reasons are as follows:
    • you did not take corrective action within 90 days after the day on which your licence was suspended.

      Note: If you make a written request, the CFIA may grant an extension beyond the 90-day period to implement the correction actions, and therefore avoid cancellation of your licence.

    • you continued to conduct an activity that is identified in your licence while your licence was under suspension.
    • you or any of your directors or officers have been convicted of an offence under the SFCA or the FDA.
    • your licence has already been suspended twice since it was issued or renewed and you continue to be in non-compliance with:
      • one or more of the provisions of the SFCA;
      • one or more of the provisions of the SFCR;
      • the FDA; or
      • the FDR
    • your licence has already been suspended because of a particular non-compliance with a requirement and you continue to be in non-compliance with that same requirement.
    • You were not in compliance with section 15 of the SFCA at the time of your application, or at any other time while your licence was valid.

      Note: Section 15 of the SFCA prohibits a person from:

      • making a false or misleading statement to any person who is exercising powers or performing duties or functions under the SFCA; or
      • providing any person who is exercising powers or performing duties or functions under the SFCA with false or misleading information with respect to one or more of the provision of the SFCA or the SFCR, including information related to an application for a licence.

Section 40: Notification prior to cancelling a licence

  • Before cancelling your licence, the CFIA will:
    • notify you of the reason for cancellation; and
    • provide you with an opportunity to be heard
  • The CFIA will notify you in writing:
    • that your licence will be cancelled; and
    • the date of its cancellation.
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