Guide to Importing Food Products Commercially
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Appendix I - Federal Legislation
The following are brief descriptions of legislation that may apply to import activities, listed in alphabetical order. Other legislation may apply. For further information, contact the appropriate federal or provincial authorities.
The Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (AMPs) establishes a system of administrative monetary penalties for the enforcement of the following acts: the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Health of Animals Act, the Meat Inspection Act, the Plant Protection Act, and the Seeds Act.
Canada Agricultural Products Act and associated Regulations (CAP Act)
The Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAP Act) and associated Regulations are designed to set national standards and grades for agricultural products and to regulate the marketing of agricultural products in import, export, and interprovincial trade.
They provide for the licensing of dealers in agricultural products; the inspection, grading, labelling, and packaging (including standardized sizes) of regulated products; the registration of establishments; standards governing the construction, maintenance and operation of establishments; and mechanisms to settle disputes over transactions between dealers of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The following regulations fall under the CAP Act:
- Dairy Products Regulations
- Egg Regulations
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations
- Honey Regulations
- Licensing and Arbitration Regulations
- Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations
- Maple Products Regulations
- Organic Products Regulations
- Processed Egg Regulations
- Processed Products Regulations
This Act established the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and sets out the responsibilities, accountability regime, organization, human and financial resources regime, powers and reporting framework of the Agency.
The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act is a federal statute which promotes fair competition in the marketplace by discouraging deceptive business practices and encouraging the provision of accurate and meaningful information on the labels of prepackaged food products.
The Regulations prescribe requirements for bilingual labelling, metric net quantity declarations and for the size and location of mandatory labelling information. The Regulations also prescribe standardized sizes for some consumer products including the following foods: glucose syrup and refined sugar syrup, peanut butter, and wine.
The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations also establish the average system as the criterion for determining compliance with net quantity declarations.
The Customs Act provides the legislative authority for Customs inspectors to detain goods that may be in contravention of the Customs Act or any other act or regulation that prohibits, controls or regulates the importation or exportation of goods.
Export and Import Permits Act
The Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) authorizes the Minister for International Trade to control the importation and exportation of certain products. The Act provides for the establishment of a series of lists including the Import Control List (ICL), the Export Control List (ECL) and the Area Control List (ACL). The Act sets out criteria that govern the inclusion of goods on the ECL and ICL. Through the issuance of import permits and export permits, the government controls the import and export of items included on these lists, and the export of goods to ACL destinations.
The EIPA authorizes the Minister to issue import allocations to Canadian-residents. Once shares of tariff rate quotas are allocated, import permits are issued to holders up to their allocation level so long as the terms and conditions of the associated EIPA authorization(s) are respected. The Minister may issue supplemental import permits to authorize imports in excess of the import access quantity.
The Fish Inspection Act and Regulations establish composition, quality, labelling and packaging requirements for fish and fish products traded internationally and interprovincially. Regulations also set standards of construction, operation and maintenance for processing establishments.
The Fish Health Protection Regulations under the Fisheries Act are designed to prevent the spread of infectious fish diseases, both by inspecting production sources of fish stocks, and by controlling the movements of infected fish stocks. They apply to live and dead cultured fish and eggs (including any fertilized or unfertilized sex products) of cultured and wild fish. These regulations apply to certain types of fish from the family Salmonidae.
The Food and Drugs Act is a consumer protection statute dealing with food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices. It establishes minimum health and safety requirements, as well as provisions preventing fraud and deception for all food sold in Canada. "Sell" as defined in the Food and Drugs Act means to offer for sale, expose for sale, and have in possession for sale and distribution, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration. Regulations contain food labelling requirements and standards of identity, composition, strength, potency, purity, quality or other properties for several classes of foods.
The purpose of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations is to prevent the introduction of animal diseases into Canada and to protect the agricultural sectors and the economy.
The Health of Animals Act and Regulations regulate international trade in live animals, animal products and by-products (including aquatic animals), animal feeds, veterinary biologics and biotechnology products.
Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act
The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act is a federal statute concerning the transportation and release of intoxicating liquors in respect of their interprovincial and international movements. With few exceptions, this legislation restricts the importation and transportation of beverage alcohol to provincial liquor authorities.
The Meat Inspection Act and Regulations regulate international and interprovincial trade in meat and meat products. They provide for the registration of establishments involved in the slaughter, processing or packaging of products traded internationally or interprovincially. Regulations also set standards of construction, operation and maintenance for registered establishments.
The Plant Protection Act and Regulations provide the legislative authority to prevent the importation, exportation and spread of pests injurious to plants. The purpose of the Act is to protect plant life and the agricultural and forestry sectors. Plants and plant products, including certain fresh fruits and vegetables, are subject to plant protection import requirements.
The Weights and Measures Act establishes net quantity requirements for commodities sold on the basis of measure and sets out the criteria for determining commodity compliance to those requirements.
The Weights and Measures Act does not apply to products subject to net quantity requirements set out in other federal legislation, and therefore does not apply to food packaged for direct sale to the consumer. (These foods are covered under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.) The Weights and Measures Act, however, does apply to foods in shipping containers destined for commercial or industrial enterprises or institutions, products sold in bulk, and clerk-served foods at retail.
The Weights and Measures Act establishes design, performance, installation, and use requirements with regard to measuring devices being used in trade.
Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA)
The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act is the implementing legislation for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Canada. It regulates the international movement of CITES-listed species and their derivatives through a permit system. It allows the prosecution in Canada of importers who violate wildlife conservation legislation in foreign countries, and permits Canada to restrict the importation of wildlife designated as harmful to Canadian ecosystems.
Appendix II - Contact Information
Federal Government Departments and Agencies
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- Canada Border Services Agency
- Canadian Grain Commission
- Environment Canada
- Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
- Health Canada
- Industry Canada
Provincial and Territorial Departments
Provincial and Territorial Liquor Control
Appendix III - Product Codes
Universal Product Code (UPC)
The Universal Product Code (UPC) is a 12 digit, all-numeric, machine readable code (bar code) that identifies a consumer package. The UPC is not required by government, but is administered by GS1 Canada. Although this code is not required by law, virtually all retailers require that the food merchandise they carry be labelled with a UPC. The code is used in tracking inventory, pricing, accounting and at the check-out counter. It is also used on invoices, cases, bills of lading, etc.
For more information concerning the UPC, or to obtain an application form, contact GS1 Canada.
Harmonized System Codes - HS Codes
The Harmonized System or HS is an international commodity classification system used in international trade. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses HS codes in its Automated Import System (AIS).
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