Safe Food for Canadians Act: What does it mean for brand owners?

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Safe Food for Canadians ActIf you are in the food business – preparing, packaging, importing, exporting or distributing – the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) could have a major impact on your business. The objective of the new legislation is to improve the safety of the Canadian food supply. The primary components of the proposed rules are licensing, trade, traceability, preventive control plans and requirements for food preparation.

CFIA is in the process of finalizing the regulations, anticipating they will come into force in 2018.

Do brand owners need to be licensed?

Yes, if they “prepare” food, which is defined by Health Canada as “manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, slaughter, package and label”, for inter-provincial trade (for sale between provinces), import or export.

Brands that use co-packers

Brand owners using co-packers to manufacture their products should ensure the co-packers are licensed and in compliance with the regulations. Understanding the regulations is the key to developing an effective supplier verification process. Conducting due diligence is necessary to protect the brand reputation and mitigate risks.

Support for Small Business

Understandably small business owners dread more legislation in an already heavily regulated industry. On a positive note, the CFIA is making provisions to support micro and small businesses with “plain language guidance material” on how to comply with the new rules. Also, a staged implementation would allow businesses that are not federally registered extra time to comply with certain requirements of the legislation.

Protecting your Brand

The SFCA will help businesses protect and strengthen their brand through risk assessments, preventive control measures and traceability. Food safety may not be sexy like product development and packaging design, but it is a necessary part of a healthy food supply chain. Building a sustainable food business requires ongoing investment in food safety and every employee has a role to play.

Check out these resources to understand the impact on your business and how to prepare for the new legislation.

CFIA Update on Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (Sept. 2017)

CFIA Safe Food for Canadians: Resources (July 2016)

CFIA Overview of Proposed Regulations (July 2014)

OMAF guide to preparing for traceability requirements

As packaged food specialists, Birgit Blain and her team transform food into retail-ready products. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at and subscribe to her Food Biz Blog for valuable advice.

© Birgit Blain

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