It is fair to say that Canada’s food safety programs strive to keep pace with the global food environment, with a view to protect the health of Canadians. For years the federal government has been working on improving standards in food safety while keeping an eye on harmonizing the Canadian system as much as possible with those of its key trading partners.
Well, the long-awaited modernization of Canada’s food regulatory landscape is finally coming to a close: indeed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) – one of many Canadian food regulators – published proposed new regulations in the Canada Gazette Part I publication issued January 21, 2016. You may access this publication by following this link:
The CFIA notice begins at page 258 by providing a very instructive backgrounder on this colossal food modernization undertaking. Then from page 338 to 540 the proposed text of the new regulations is reproduced in its entirety; it is aptly called Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
The proposed regulations aim to combine various disparate food requirements found in numerous regulations under a common regulatory umbrella. It deals with food standards of course, but also with food packaging, labeling, registrations, licensing, inspections, to name but a few. One noteworthy provision deals with the mandatory requirement to possess a fixed place of business in Canada in order to import food. Failing that, non-resident importers can only bring food from a foreign state that has a food safety system equivalent to Canada, or make the appropriate arrangements with a Canadian-based importer. Minor exceptions apply in specific circumstances.
It is worth noting that the new regulations are at the proposal stage at the moment. CFIA invites views from stakeholders to be communicated to them in the next 90-days, or until April 21, 2017 to be precise.
Food is one of the most complex commercial sectors to manage when ensuring compliance with import and export trade requirements. Hard to imagine but food is perhaps more heavily regulated than, say, arms and munitions. Health and safety of consumers is of course at the top of the regulators’ mind, with trade facilitation a distant second.
Those involved in food trade with Canada should definitely take a moment to examine the changes that are about to impact their compliance and competitiveness. Perhaps let their views known to CFIA, but certainly set a plan in motion and prepare for what’s ahead.