Safe Food for Canadians Act

To improve Canada’s food safety system and better manage risks facing Canadians, the Government of Canada proposed the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) which received Royal Assent in November 2012.

Businesses importing or preparing food for export, or interprovincial trade, will need to comply with the requirements of the act. This includes businesses that are currently non-federally registered, but trade interprovincially or internationally.

SFCA requires a focus on prevention to ensure a food that is imported, exported or shipped from one province to another, is manufactured, stored, packaged and labelled in a way that does not present a risk of contamination.

Requirements for the food industry

  1. Licensing: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will issue a licence, valid for two years. A licensing fee will also apply. As well, licences may be renewed every two years.
  2. Food Safety Requirements: During the manufacturing, storing, packaging and labelling of a food product, businesses will have to meet basic food safety requirements for:

    • products and processes
    • sanitation, pest control, sanitizers and chemical agents
    • hygiene and competencies
    • design, construction and maintenance
    • receiving, storage and transportation
    • investigation, notification, complaint and recall procedures
  3. Preventative Control Plan (PCP): Businesses will need to develop and maintain a PCP that is consistent with a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) approach. This includes identifying:

    • all hazards
    • critical control points and related control measures
    • critical limits
    • monitoring procedures
    • corrective action procedures
    • verification procedures
    • record-keeping procedures

    Note: Micro-businesses (ex: businesses with total annual food revenue of less than $30,000) will be exempt (excused) from the requirement for a written PCP; however, they will still have to meet PCP requirements. As well, the exemption will not be available for current licence holders that are already required to meet food safety requirements (ex: meat, fish, dairy, egg, processed egg, processed products).
  4. Traceability: Businesses will have to keep traceability records for three years for all products. They will need to be able to track food forward to the immediate consumer and backwards to the immediate supplier (“one step forward, one step backward”). 


The new regulations are expected to come into force in 2015.

Support and resources

The CFIA will issue guidance documents to support the SFCA and help businesses comply. These include:
• guidance documents to explain the intention behind regulatory requirements
• sample model systems to provide examples of program compliance
• plain-language resources for small and medium businesses
These guidance documents will continue to change over time based on comments and feedback. Businesses currently in the “non-federally registered” sector will be given additional time to comply with certain requirements of the proposed regulations. This sector will have until 2016 to obtain a licence and until 2017 to develop a PCP.

For additional information