Effective on January 15, 2019, the Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) Act and Regulations are now the primary food law in Canada. The Canadian Parliament passed the SFC Act in 2012, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) published the final version of the regulations on June 18, 2018, setting the stage for January 2019 implementation.
The new regulations apply to all importation, exportation and interprovincial commerce of food products, and require all food companies involved in these activities to be licensed. Products that are manufactured and sold within the same Canadian Province are not subject to the regulations.
The SFC law focuses on three pillars of enforcement: licensing, preventive controls, and traceability. Companies must demonstrate a written and enforceable preventive control plan to receive a license. Processors and Importers must be able to trace all packaging and ingredients back to the original vendor, and all finished products must be traceable to the first level of distribution. Retailers must be able to trace products back to the supplier. Firms subject to the SFC must conduct a Mock Recall at least once per year. These pillars are delineated in Parts, 3, 4, and 5 of the regulations, respectively.
The new standards consolidate 14 sets of regulations into one, greatly simplifying regulatory compliance for processors.
Previous legislation eliminated buy the SFC includes the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA), Fish Inspection Act (FIA), the Meat Inspection Act (MIA), and the food-related provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA).
The goals of the new regulations are an overall safer food supply, quicker food recalls, better food programs, and better controls of imported foods. On the enforcement side, penalties are stricter, and fines are higher for violations.
SFC vs FSMA
While provisions such as preventive controls are similar to those required in the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), there are some distinct differences between the two laws.
SFC applies to all food types, whereas FSMA only applies to foods regulated by the FDA, not USDA commodities (meat, poultry, etc.).
FSMA requires a PCQI (Preventive Controls Qualified Individual) at licensed facilities, SFC does not. However, if Canadian firms want to ship to the US, then a PCQI is necessary to abide by FSMA rules.
FSMA places much more emphasis on environmental monitoring, SFC at this point does not mandate or emphasize environmental monitoring programs.
SFC includes consumer protection stipulations (weights, labels, composition standards, etc.), FSMA does not.
SFC strictly follows HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) guidelines, whereas FSMA focuses on the similar, but slightly different, hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC) standards.
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