NEW RULES ARE COMING

Importers of food and food ingredients that are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act may soon require a license, certifying that they have implemented required food safety measures, and that their food products comply with labelling rules prescribed under the Consumer Product Packaging and Labelling Act. On Monday, August 16, 2010, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”) posted an industry survey on its website relating to the licensing of food importers, indicating its intention to move forward with this significant regulatory reform.  

BACKGROUND

The CFIA is engaging in this significant regulatory reform pursuant to Canada’s Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan (the “Plan”), which was first announced in December, 2007. One of the objectives of the Plan is to modernize legislation such as the Food and Drugs Act and to enhance program safety measures. Specific goals of the Plan include: (a) to better identify and engage importers of the targeted food products; (b) to enhance verification of compliance with food safety requirements; and (c) to minimize the risk of unsafe products entering Canada and respond rapidly to better manage food safety issues as they occur.  

AFFECTED FOOD PRODUCTS

Regulatory reform is directed at importers of food products in the Non Federally Registered Sector (“NFRS”). Changes would also affect agricultural products (i.e., derived from plant or animal sources) that are not already covered by other commodityspecific trade legislation. Once the proposed regulations are in force, NFRS products would become known as the Imported Food Sector (“IFS”). Foods that will be regulated under the new changes include:  

  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Bakery products and confectionaries
  • Cereals
  • Coffee and tea
  • Fats and oils
  • Infant formula
  • Juices
  • Spices and seasonings

PROVIDING FEEDBACK  

The CFIA will be accepting feedback from stakeholders in order to assess the level of support for, and address concerns relating to, this initiative. Consultation period is open until October 4, 2010. Note that the CFIA is also holding half-day stakeholder consultation sessions across Canada, commencing on September 8, 2010.