Overview: importing dairy products
Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.
On this page
- General information
- Specific requirements for imported dairy products
- Grades and standards for dairy products
- Labelling requirements
- Organic dairy products
- Export and Imports Permit Act
This document outlines requirements specific to importing dairy products. In order to ensure that you will also meet the general import requirements for importing food and the preparation of your preventive control plan, please visit the Importing Food: A Step by Step Guide and A guide for preparing a preventive control plan – For importers.
The specific import requirements for importing dairy products can be found in the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). AIRS information is updated frequently so prior to importing you should verify AIRS to ensure that the import requirements have not changed.
The Health of Animals Act restricts the importation of milk products from countries where the presence of animal diseases pose a threat to Canadian agriculture and health. Depending on the country of origin, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to import milk products that carry the risk of introducing foot-and-mouth disease into Canada. In most cases you will be required to obtain a zoosanitary export certificate that describes the product and country of origin of the animals from which the milk is obtained. Detailed information on these requirements can be found on the Animal Health Milk and regulated milk products – import procedures page.
Specific requirements for imported dairy products
- The Import for Re-export Program (IREP) facilitates the entry of milk/cream from the United States (US) into Canada for processing and ultimate re-export Import for re-export program (IREP) outlines the details related to IREP.
- Cheese made from raw milk must be aged more than 60 days before being made available to the public. The exception is raw milk cheese from France coming from a recognized facility. Refer to the Raw, soft and semi soft cheese policy and sample certificate (France).
Grades and standards for dairy products
There are grades and standards referred to in the regulations for dairy products. These standards of identity and grades have been combined into a collection of Documents incorporated by reference – Safe Food for Canadians Regulations . Imported dairy products must meet the requirements set out in the following:
- Canadian Standards of Identity Volume 1, Dairy Products
- Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 4, Dairy Products
- Dairy Products Grade Designations for Imported Food (refer to items 1-2 in this table for information relevant to dairy products)
Refer to the CFIA web page Food-specific requirements and guidance – Dairy products to view various guidance documents that explain the SFCR requirements.
Imported dairy products must also meet the labelling and packing requirements outlined in the SFCR. The Industry labelling tool is a food labelling reference for all industry that outlines the requirement for food labelling and advertising.
Labelling requirements for dairy products outline the labelling requirements specific for dairy products.
Organic dairy products
Imported organic dairy products may be certified to the Canadian Organic Standard by a CFIA accredited Certification Body or be certified in accordance with an equivalency arrangement established between Canada and the exporting country. Where an equivalency arrangement is in place, organic products may be certified by a certification body accredited by that country and recognized by Canada. All relevant Canadian legislation would also continue to apply for the imported product.
Any person who imports a product or markets it in Canada as an organic product must be able to demonstrate, at all times, that the product meets one of the requirements set out above and must retain the documents attesting that the product is organic.
For further information about organic products refer to Organic products.
Export and Imports Permit Act
Dairy products are one of the many agricultural commodities that are subject to controls under Canada's Export and Imports Permit Act (EIPA). Accordingly, an import permit is required for shipments of dairy products to enter Canada. Import permits for shipments of dairy products destined to the Canadian market are issued to allocation holders under Canada's tariff rate quota (TRQ) for dairy products, which is administered by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Meaning that under the EIPA, a quota holder can import a specific quantity of dairy products at a lower rate of duty while imports not covered by a quota are subject to higher rates of duty. Further information regarding the importation of dairy products can be found on found on the GAC webpage for Dairy products.
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