Pursuant to the Safe Food for Canadians Act, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is proposing new regulations to improve the oversight of imported food products in the non-federally registered sector. This regulatory proposal would:

  • Strengthen the accountability of food importers for the safety of their products;
  • Improve importers' ability to quickly identify, respond to and advise the CFIA of potentially unsafe imported food.

The proposed regulations will apply to imported food products that are not already regulated under commodity-specific regulations under the Canada Agricultural Products Act or other legislation. Examples of foods that would require the importer to hold a valid import licence to import into Canada under the proposed regulations include:

  • Bakery products
  • Confectionery/chocolate
  • Grains, breads and cereals
  • Juices
  • Snack foods
  • Beverages
  • Coffee and tea
  • Fats and oils
  • Infant formula
  • Meal replacements and formulated liquid diets
  • Spices and seasonings

Under the proposal, importers will need to have a licence. To obtain a licence, importers will need to develop, implement and maintain a written Preventive Food Safety Control Plan (PFSCP) outlining the actions and measures taken to keep their food safe and compliant with Canadian regulations.

General Requirements

Importers will be required to:

  • Notify the CFIA within 24 hours of determining that a food safety hazard exists;
  • Develop, establish and maintain a written recall plan to help identify and remove products of concern from the Canadian marketplace quickly and efficiently;
  • Maintain records associated with the imported products, as well as those related to the recall plan and the PFSCP.

Licensing Requirements

Importers will be required to:

  • Complete an application for an IFS licence;
  • Have, implement and maintain a written PFSCP and demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures to reduce food safety risks;
  • Have a licence number for each shipment of goods.

Licences will be issued to entities and not establishments, with only one licence per legal entity.

Proposed Implementation

The coming-into-force of the proposed regulations will begin with an Interim Compliance Promotion phase that will last for at least one year. This will also allow importers to:

  • Become aware of their obligations and familiarize themselves with the appropriate legislation;
  • Comply with the regulatory requirements; and
  • Obtain a licence.