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The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Canadians can trust what’s on their plates thanks to a world-class food safety net enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Thanks to the Safe Food for Canadian Act, tabled in 2012 by the Harper Government and adopted by the Senate later in October of the same year and royally sanctioned the following month – the modern requirements lay out the rules for imported and exported foods between provinces.
The regulation essentially consolidates various pieces of legislation such as the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. Streamlining and consolidating the regulations has equipped Canada with a modern food safety system overseeing the food imported, exported and traded between provinces.
The Safe Food for Canadians Act ensures protection for consumers by zooming into unsafe practices and implementing tougher penalties for activities that put the health and safety of Canadians at risk. It also provides a better control over imports and strengthens food trace ability allowing unsafe foods to be quickly removed from the market should a problem arise.
Preventive food safety controls
Preventive food safety controls are also part of the Act, they allow businesses that are preparing, importing or exporting food to better understand and prevent hazardous situations linked to their products, foods or processes by having a preventive control plan.
For food importers and exporters, the three key requirements are licensing, preventive controls and trace ability. The first element, licensing, is part of a modern food safety system. In terms of preventive controls, importers and exporters are encouraged to keep in mind three simple rules: know your food by being aware of any potential risks associated; know your supplier by being certain that any foreign suppliers also meet the same level of safety and standards as domestic suppliers; and finally, have a written plan by keeping a log monitoring your import process, how you the food you import meets standards and the procedures for complaints and recalls. Lastly, under the Act, importers need to keep clear and readable records that trace where the food was sourced and to whom it was provided. Should a recall be necessary, this preventive step will reduce the time required to do so.
The Act will not apply to food served on ferries, airlines, trains, etc, nor food intended and used for analysis, evaluation or research weighing 100 kg or less, any food not intended for human use and labelled as such, any food imported from the United States onto the Akwesasne reserve by a permanent resident of the reserve, any food imported in bond for use by the crew of a cruise ship or military ship in Canada and finally, any food traded between federal penitentiaries.
Canada aligned with internationally recognized standards
The Safe Food for Canadians Act has aligned Canada with internationally recognized standards, such as the CODEX Alimentarius, for food safety and consumer protection. As such, Canadians food businesses will now be able to use innovative technology, help prevent food safety outbreaks and allow for a rapid removal of unsafe food from market when necessary.