If you’re in the food industry, complying with the Safe Food for Canadians Act is more than just a good idea — it’s the law. If you fail to abide by the new regulations, which were implemented to increase food safety, you may find yourself facing strict prohibitions, fines, and other penalties. Learning the basics of food safety requirements in Canada is a vital element in the growth of your food-related small business.
Goals of the Act
The Safe Food for Canadians Act allows the Canadian government to inspect different types of foods under a single inspection model. This is in contrast to the previous model, which covered different types of food products, such as meat and eggs, dairy, seafood, produce, processed foods, and imported and manufactured foods separately. The new legislation combines the Canada Agricultural Products Act, Fish Inspection Act, Meat Inspection Act, and the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act.
The act imposes tough penalties on businesses that don’t abide by the guidelines. Other central goals of the SFCA include:
- Improving food traceability practices to enhance transparency
- Providing more control over imported products
- Banning imported products that are potentially unsafe
- Making it more difficult for businesses to obtain or retain licences and permits.
Changes to Inspections
Your food industry business should also prepare for changes to inspection policies. This new legislation allows one inspector to inspect all types of food commodities. Previously, one inspector inspected produce, another inspected meat, and so on.
Other changes to inspections include:
- Allowing inspectors to issue penalties or request warrants immediately, rather than returning with a warrant as in the past
- Giving inspectors greater access to facilities
- Allowing inspectors to request documents, take photographs, and demand that food services facilities remove obstacles standing in the way of proper inspections
- Giving inspectors the right to request that business owners immediately stop any activity that prevents a company from being fully compliant with the Safe Food for Canadians Act
The old legislation didn’t require food manufacturers to have supply chain tracking in place. Now you’re required to implement tools that allow for potentially harmful foods to be located and recalled, all in an effort to create ingredient transparency. You must be able to determine where in the supply chain the problematic ingredient is located so it can be eliminated. The newly required tracking systems also prevent recalled food products form being resold. When you register and track products on an ingredient-by-ingredient level, you become part of keeping unsafe food out of the hands of consumers. Your efforts also help the government hold individuals and companies accountable for selling tainted products.
Licences and Registration
In order to remain compliant, your food or beverage business may need to look into the individual requirements for your licences and registrations. In most cases, the act does not require new licences. Instead, it consolidates individual licences into one broad licence for businesses that handle food products. However, officials can now build profiles for each company to determine the risk associated with each sector. The information collected may have an effect on licencing conditions and requirements in the future. As long as your food company pays attention to the latest updates to the act and remains vigilantly in compliance, you shouldn’t have any issues. After all, when it comes to food safety, you can never be too careful.