Canada gears up regulations for its food safety law

11/27/2013 11:50:00 AM
Tom Karst

Canada’s food safety regulations are in the passing lane.

The Safe Food for Canadians Act was passed more than a year after the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act, but officials in Canada have vowed to fully implement regulations by January 2015.

If achieved, that aggressive timeline will likely beat the final produce safety regulations from the Food and Drug Administration mandated by U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act; the FDA has a court-ordered deadline of June 2015 for final produce safety regulations as a result of a lawsuit by the consumer group Center for Food Safety.

Drafting of regulations prompted by the Safe Food for Canadians Act of 2012 will soon begin, said Jane Proctor, vice president for policy and issue management for the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association. The first deadline for public comments to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on the drafting of the food safety regulation was Nov. 29, she said, marking the end of a months-long period of consultations between industry, interested members of the public and government agencies.

Proctor said CPMA’s regulatory modernization working group — composed of numerous representatives from the produce supply chain — was on Nov. 26 in the process of finalizing comments to the CFIA by Nov. 29.

The Safe Food for Canadians Act pulls together food inspection regulations in Canada, currently administered through the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, according to the Canadian Food Safety Inspection Agency. The legislation will create stronger traceability rules, enhance record-keeping requirements and improve the safety of imported food, according to the website.

Proctor said officials at the CFIA have indicated they will then consider comments received and issue draft food safety regulations in May or June of 2014. After that, Canadian officials are expected to allow a two-month comment period before the regulations are finalized in the Canada Gazette. Proctor said that type of extended regulatory process is very uncommon in Canada. Government officials are doing it, she said, because of the massive changes in food safety regulations put in motion by the new law.

Because of the magnitude of the changes, Proctor said it is in the best interests of the CFIA to issue draft rules and get more reaction from industry and the public.


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Mark FeDuke    
Canada and global  |  November, 29, 2013 at 02:12 PM

With regards to the non-resident importer issue, it is important to note that the CFIA is looking to align itself with what's already in the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act....title III Sec 301 of FSMA makes use of a very prescriptive importer definition making NRIs verbotten ( Canadian or otherwise). Canadian companies operating as NRIs in the USA are often bonded in accordance with U.S. Customs (CBP) requirements and Canadian NRIs are not only welcomed by but are embraced by DHS as "trusted traders" given how many are long standing members of the C-TPAT program, but going forward, these same NRIs will not be accepted as the importer by the FDA. So in both Canada and the USA, NRIs ( often SMEs ) will be faced with new market access costs. CFIA has been open to discussing the US food exporter as NRI in Canada but one can hardly expect Canada to make allowances for US firms to operate as NRIs in the food sector if the USA doesn't do the same for Canadian companies under FSMA. Meanwhile, under the RCC/Beyond the Borders initiative residents of Canada and the USA can rest more peacefully knowing that the team assembled by PM Harper and President Obama has been successful in achieving such RCC "deliverables" as alignment of regulations on life jackets worn on our common waterways.

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