Revised CFIA process provides 2-hour timeframe to confirm information for public warnings for food recalls

Earlier this month, CFIA asked industry associations to circulate a letter advising of CFIA’s new process for issuing public warnings for food recalls. The aim of the new process, which is effective immediately, is to increase the timeliness of notifying the public, should a public notice be required. The new process as outlined in the letter is as follows:

  • Under certain circumstances, the CFIA will share a draft public warning with the implicated company before CFIA has confirmed that a food recall with a public warning is needed.
  • The affected company will be asked to review the draft public warning for accuracy with respect to the product description, distribution and company name, and to provide confirmation within 2 hours.

CFIA notes that the request to review the draft public warning is not to be interpreted as a request for a recall and indicates that confirmation of the content of the draft warning will not imply that the affected company agrees that the product poses a health risk to consumers.

While the letter indicates that “The CFIA would notify the affected company as soon as a Health Risk Assessment is obtained and/or a decision to request a recall has been made” – the letter does not address when the affected company would have an opportunity to play a role in the Health Risk Assessment or the recall strategy.

Regulations under Safe Foods for Canadians Act delayed

In late January, CFIA advised industry groups that the publication of regulations under the Safe Foods for Canadians Act will be delayed to address feedback from industry consultations which occurred in late 2014. CFIA advised that it will assess whether additional consultations are required, and that stakeholders will be notified once next steps have been determined.