The proposed changes from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to regulations governing importing and exporting of food have been delayed until 2015.
The CFIA, which was expected to begin implementing regulations under the Safe Food for Canadians Act this year, is extending consultation on the regulations until the end of November. The safe food act consolidates parts of four existing acts: the Fish Inspection Act, Canada Agricultural Products Act, Meat Inspection Act and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act.
After the additional input, they will circulate the draft regulations for stakeholder comment, said Candace Sider, Director of Regulatory Affairs for Livingston International.
“They want to make sure they get it right,” she said. “If they don’t, it would have a big impact on trade.”
CFIA had planned on implementing $259 federal licensing fees next year, but now the whole act will be implemented at one time in 2015, Sider said.
What Does the New Act Cover?
The Safe Food for Canadians Act, debated during the massive beef recall from XL Foods plant in Alberta last year, covers all food products that are imported, exported and traded inter-provincially. The act will create consistent trading rules for all food commodities by bringing them under the licensing and regulations of the CFIA.
The most notable part of the act is that all food manufacturers will be required to implement traceability systems that produce documentation of the passage of a food product through their systems in a standard format that could speed up a recall. They will also have to develop and maintain a prevention plan to ensure food safety.
All companies dealing with food will be registered or licensed by the CFIA, increasing the agency’s authority. Importers will now be held responsible for the safety of the food they bring into the country. For companies dealing with multiple types of food, only one CFIA license would be required.
Exporters will also have to be certified by CFIA, which will make export certification more consistent across various types of food and improve trade with the growing number of countries requiring certification. It also brings Canada’s food safety laws into line with U.S. laws.
What Does this Mean for Small Businesses?
Small and medium-sized businesses in particular, which make up the majority of companies involved in the manufacture, import and export of food, will feel the impact of these regulations.
“Implementing traceability systems and recall plans is going to require a lot of time and resources,” Sider said. “With CFIA pushing the launch date to 2015, we encourage companies to proactively review the requirements and engage, develop and implement the required plans. This will be a critical component to ensuring that they can effectively manage their supply chain and meet the regulatory requirements to ensure compliance.”
As part of departmental regulatory modernization, the CFIA is promising the regulations will be transparent, outcome-based and with a flexible framework that will support e-commerce and other modern business practices.
For More Information
Please visit the CFIA website for more information on the Safe Food for Canadians Act.