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New food safety rules get industry stamp of approval

CFIG, RCC and FCPC support the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations taking effect next year
Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

Three major industry associations have given a stamp of approval to sweeping new food safety regulations set to come into effect early next year.

With the introduction of the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 14 exisiting food regulations will be replaced by one rules framework intended to both simplify the system for businesses while improving safety for consumers across the food system. Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, the Retail Council of Canada, and Food & Consumer Products of Canada have all said they support the changes.

The regulations cover everything from labelling, packaging and advertising, to importing, exporting and interprovincial trade and standards. The CFIA said food businesses would be effected in three fundamental areas: licensing, preventive controls and traceability.

  • The existing registration and licensing system will be replaced by a single licensing system for all businesses that import, manufacture, treat or package food. The CFIA said the new system would “provide a consistent and universal means to identifying who is involved in the production and supply of food in Canada.”

  • All food businesses will need to have documented preventive control plans that “outline potential risks to food safety and steps to control them.”

  • To reduce the time it takes to remove unsafe food from shelves, businesses will have to trace their food back to their suppliers and forward to where it was sold. Retailers will only have to trace backwards to suppliers and not to their consumers. The new measures will lead to more efficient and effective recalls.

The regulations have been in development since 2013 and are the result of what the government called “an unprecedented level of consultations with stakeholders and consumers.”

Improvements to food safety measures are good news for grocers, said Gary Sands, senior vice-president of public policy and advocacy at Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. “Anything that enhances the safety of the food supply system is good for everyone.”

During the consultation process, CFIG asked the government for a more simplified system to reduce the administrative load, which has a disproportionate impact on smaller and independent grocers. “One is better than 14, that’s just common sense,” he said.

“These regulations are the biggest change to the food industry in the past 25 years and they will have a positive and lasting impact," said Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, Retail Council of Canada, in a release. "Our members strongly support the objectives of the new regulations and it is our common goal to ensure Canadian consumers have access to safe, high-quality food at affordable prices."

In a release, the FCPC also said it was pleased with the final regulations calling them “forward-thinking” and beneficial to its members in a number of ways.

“We appreciate CFIA’s approach as it helped our member companies prepare for the changes to come and ensure comments reflected their current operating environment and evolving concerns,” said Michael Graydon, CEO, FCPC.

While the new regulations will take effect Jan. 15, 2019, some requirements will be phased in over a period of 12 to 30 months and additional exceptions will be made for small businesses that gross $100,000 or less; they will have to have preventive controls in place (such as sanitation and pest control), but will not be required to have a written preventive control plan, for example. The government has also published explainer content at the CFIA site to help businesses understand exactly how they will be effected.


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