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June 22, 2018
· Canada just passed regulations to implement the Safe Food for Canadians Act (Canada’s version of FSMA)
· The Canadian regulations mirror the (relatively) new U.S. regulations
· The Canadian regulations: require their establishments to become licensed, focus on preventive controls, and include provisions to facilitate reciprocity with the U.S.
· Although the laws passed this past week, they will go into effect January 2019.
We’re in good company. Or maybe, misery loves company.
Working in the segment of the food industry that has been most dramatically impacted by FSMA, we are all very familiar with the current worldwide trend to update food safety laws. However, were not in this alone: This past week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) published its Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), which implements the Safe Food for Canadians Act passed in 2012. Canada’s new regulations are scheduled to take effect in January 2019.
Just like the U.S., Canada spent years consulting with industry stakeholders, speaking with consumers, and visiting manufacturing plants before developing the rules to implement their Safe Food for Canadians Act. Similar to FSMA’s regulations, one of the biggest impacts to the Canadian food industry will be the way food is imported and exported to and from Canada.
In addition to an emphasis on import/export safety, rounding out the top five impacts of
Canada’s food system in the new regulations are:
2) Businesses that import food or prepare food for export, or to be sent across provincial or territorial borders, will now need to be licensed;
3) Facility/entity licensing/regulation will focus on preventive controls to address food safety risks.
4) Food establishments will have to maintain records that allow them to trace their food back to the supplier (not just to a manufacturer) and forward one step (to the purchaser of their products).
5) Canadian food businesses exporting foods to the U.S. will be able to leverage their SFCR license to demonstrate that their food safety controls meet their U.S. importers' requirements under the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP).
Sound familiar? Every one of the major changes to Canada’s food safety system has a counterpart in the United States’ regulatory overhaul accomplished by FSMA (except for the requirement that food establishments be licensed; that was not part of FSMA because licensure was already a requirement in the U.S.). This homogenization of the two countries’ food safety regulatory systems should make life for the food industry easier and safer.
In a press release issued by CFIA, Canada’s food safety agency stated: “The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations will make the Canadian food system even safer than it already is by focusing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace. They will reduce unnecessary administrative burden on businesses by replacing 14 sets of regulations with one, and will help maintain and grow market access for Canada's agri-food and agricultural sector.” I’d say that’s looking at the glass half full…good for you Canada! And, good luck!
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