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Toolkit for food businesses

If your business is new to federal food regulations, follow these steps to help understand the requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), as well as other food-related requirements.

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Overview

The SFCR generally apply to businesses that import or prepare food for export or interprovincial trade. However, some traceability, labelling and packaging requirements also apply to food businesses that trade within one province or territory.

Timelines

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019. Some of these requirements are being phased in based on food commodity, type of activity and business size.

Examples of manufactured foods could include:

  • confectionary, snack foods
  • beverages, coffee and tea
  • oils, dried herbs and spices, nuts and seeds
  • processed grain-based foods such as baked goods, cereals and pasta.

Key requirements

Find out if the new requirements apply to your business

Do you need a licence, preventive control plan or traceability records? Find out by using these interactive tools:

Does your business require a licence?
Does your business require preventive controls?
Does your business require traceability records?

Apply for a licence

If you require a licence, you will need to apply for one using My CFIA.

If you have a My CFIA account, sign in.

If you don't have a CFIA account, sign up for one and create a profile for your business so that you can apply for a licence. You may choose to apply for one licence that covers all of your establishments, activities and types of food, or multiple licences that would cover unique combinations of establishments, activities and types of food.

You will need to correctly identify your commodity in order to complete the licence application.

Please note:

More information:

Preventive control requirements

Preventive controls help to prevent food safety hazards and reduce the likelihood of contaminated food entering the market. This requirement applies both to food prepared in Canada (including food for export) and imported food.

Most businesses will need to document their preventive controls in a written preventive control plan (PCP). Small businesses in some sectors may not require a written plan. However, they will have to have preventive controls in place, such as sanitation and pest control measures.

You will need to meet preventive control requirements in order to get a licence.

Please note:

More information:

Traceability requirements

Traceability is the ability to track the movement of a food product, one step forward and one step back in the supply chain.

Keeping traceability records allows businesses to track food products in the event of a food safety investigation or food recall in order to protect consumers and potentially minimize economic losses.

Retailers only need to trace one step back, not forward to consumers.

More information:

Commodity-specific requirements

In addition to general requirements, you may need to meet requirements for specific food commodities:

Information for importers and exporters

Importers

Importers need to ensure that the food they import is safe to consume and meets Canadian requirements. Imported food must be prepared with the same level of food safety controls as food prepared in Canada.

Please note: If you are importing food into Canada, you must get your licence before presenting your shipment at the border. You will not be able to get a licence at the border.

More information:

Exporters

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) require that foods exported from Canada are prepared under the SFCR, which are based on internationally recognized food safety controls. This enhances market access for Canadian exports.

As an exporter, the food you export needs to meet Canadian requirements, as well as those of the importing country, before you can export your food.

When there are no requirements in the foreign country, you still need to comply with applicable Canadian law, including the SFCR.

More information:

Packaging and labelling requirements

All food businesses need to meet certain labelling, packaging and advertising requirements.

Businesses must meet requirements under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) in addition to those under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR).

These acts and regulations are intended to protect consumers from food safety risks and enable them to make informed food choices based on information that is truthful and not misleading.

Note: some foods may require specific information on a label for traceability purposes; traceability-specific labelling requirements should be consulted for additional details.

More information:

Inspection and enforcement

The CFIA's enforcement approach to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) balances the need to protect Canada's food safety system while supporting food businesses in complying with the regulations.

Since the regulations came into force on January 15, 2019, inspectors have been informing food businesses where they can find the information to help them comply with the regulations.

Enforcement actions, where applicable, are proportionate to the food safety risk and the seriousness of the non-compliance. Factors such as potential or actual harm, compliance history and intent are also taken into consideration.

More information:

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