By Kelly Bettschen, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
The Safe Food for Canadians Act (Act) will strengthen Canada’s world class food inspection system by consolidating four current food acts administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under a single act.
The regulations under the Act, once in force, will provide more modern and consistent requirements for all foods imported, exported and traded between provinces in Canada. The new regulations are needed to respond to globalization of the food supply, new processing methods and changing consumer demands. These regulations will also help Canadian food businesses remain competitive internationally and maintain access to foreign markets. These regulations will consolidate and streamline requirements across sectors and introduce an outcome-based approach to food safety rules where possible.
A key change for food processors will be that any business importing, preparing or selling food outside of the province will have to be licensed. Currently only registered products such as meat, dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, processed foods, and honey products are required to be registered or licensed. Bakery, confectionary products, fresh fruit and vegetables are just a few of the commodities that will now require licences.
Furthermore, operators will be required to have preventative control plans in place. These plans take a proactive approach to ensure food safety. Traceability is also a pillar of the Act and its regulations requiring the food processors and handlers to be able to trace food products and ingredients one step forward and one step back. This will reduce the amount of time it would take to remove unsafe food from the food chain should a food safety issue occur.
The CFIA continues to work with stakeholders and industry to look at ways to ensure that small businesses can meet the requirements of the Act and its regulations. Exemptions for small businesses are being explored and tools are being developed to assist small business in meeting the requirements. The CFIA continues to consult with industry and stakeholders on the regulations. To follow the progress or find more information on the Safe Food for Canadians Act please visit the CFIA website at www.inspection.gc.ca/safefood.