The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) yesterday temporarily lifted certain food labeling restrictions that have no impact on food safety as an initiative to support the economy, alleviate supply disruptions in Canadian grocery stores, and avoid food waste due to COVID-19. This is making way for retail sale of products that are packaged and labelled in Canada intended for food service, products packaged and labelled in the past 90 days and food products that are labelled according to U.S. labeling requirements to sell without label changes.This initiative by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is part of their ongoing efforts to respond to the challenges being raised by the industry, while working diligently to remain committed to preserving Canada’s food safety system and its animal and plant resource base.
Given these extraordinary circumstances, until further notice the CFIA will not be placing a priority on “low-risk” compliance activities associated the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) rules coming into force July 15, 2020 for the manufactured food sector. The CFIA further stated that it will prioritize its efforts on the health and safety of its employees that are working to ensure that Canada’s food supply remains safe.
Despite this, food importers and manufacturers are still encouraged to apply for a license under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). However, importers of manufactured food “will generally not encounter delays or disruptions in their imports” because of not having a SFCA license yet. Domestic manufacturers can continue to operate while they apply for a license.
It’s important to remember that the industry is responsible for ensuring the safety of their food products at all times. The CFIA will continue to support businesses in their efforts to comply with relevant legislation, including the SFCA and the SFCR. In the event of a food safety issue, the CFIA will take action to protect consumers. This may include recalling, seizing or detaining food products and using other enforcement and control measures.
The agency will continue to monitor COVID-19 as it evolves and any changes it makes to the prioritization of these compliance activities will be announced with adequate lead time once the situation allows. As such, we may adjust our compliance activities to adapt.