CFIA offering flexibility on compliance with upcoming food safety rules

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says until further notice, it will not be placing a priority on compliance with new food safety regulations that are set to take effect this summer.

New rules for manufactured foods under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are set to come into force on July 15, 2020.

However, due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the CFIA has issued a statement saying it is prioritizing the health and safety of its employees who are working to ensure Canada’s food supply remains safe rather than prioritizing compliance-related work associated with the new food safety rules.

Food importers and manufacturers are still encouraged to apply for a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Act, but the CFIA says importers “will generally not encounter delays or disruptions in their imports” if they don’t have a license yet. Domestic food companies can also continue to operate while they apply for a licence.

The agency says any changes to its prioritization of the new food safety rules “will be announced with adequate lead time once the situation allows.”

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations came into force on January 15, 2019, but certain requirements only apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size (view the timelines on the CFIA page.) The CFIA says products that fall in the manufactured food category¬†could include “confectionary, snack foods, beverages, oils, dried herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, coffee and tea, processed grain-based foods such as baked goods, cereals and pasta.”

The CFIA has already prioritized the work that it has deemed critical to food safety as part of its response to COVID-19, and suspended the rest of its “low risk” activities.

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