RCC is pleased to announce two areas of progress for our grocery members, one on ensuring consistent regulatory requirements, and the other on facilitating trade.
In response to high profile food safety crises (e.g. listeria, E. coli, etc.), the Safe Food for Canadians Act passed through Parliament in 2012. This sweeping new legislation requires new food regulations to bring it into force. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has spent the past two years conducting a massive overhaul of its food regulations.
Win #1 – A Consistent, Coordinated Review of All Food Commodities
CFIA already had a regulatory proposal underway for the low-risk “non-federally registered” sector (e.g. crackers, cereals) well before the Safe Food for Canadians Act.
Even after the larger regulatory review was announced, CFIA indicated that this proposal would continue to proceed on its own “fast track”. This would have meant that either two sets of changes would be required in short order (one for the “fast track” change, and the other as part of the subsequent comprehensive review), or that there would be inconsistent requirements between food sectors. This would have meant a considerable cost and administrative burden for grocery retailers.
RCC was successful in having CFIA consider all food commodities at one time under its “Regulatory Modernization” initiative. After months of correspondence and meetings on the subject, RCC recently received confirmation that only one review would take place, resulting in a single, co-ordinated set of changes for members.
Win #2 – Non-Resident Food Importers
CFIA had also proposed a new requirement that only Canadian residents would be allowed to import food into Canada. This would have resulted in serious disruptions in business relationships between grocery retailers and their US vendors. “Non-resident importers” have always been a trusted and critical part of the food industry. A new residency requirement would have been a costly and unnecessary administrative burden.
RCC is pleased to confirm that its efforts to remove this requirement were successful. After months of correspondence and meetings with the Federal Government and other associations, RCC was also able to ensure that non-resident importers would continue to be able to import food into Canada.
On November 22, 2012, the Safe Food for Canadians Act received royal assent and established the broad framework and authorities for CFIA’s proposed approach. CFIA began reviewing its approach to food regulation and inspection with the intent to modernize its activities. CFIA has released over 15 consultation documents to-date, including papers on regulatory modernization, inspection modernization and labelling modernization. This represents one of the largest regulatory overhauls in Canadian history.
It is expected that a 419-page regulatory proposal will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I this January for a formal comment period. The proposal will be accompanied by numerous revised guidance documents for comment, including papers on food labelling modernization, the use of private certification and model food safety systems for small and medium enterprises. RCC will continue to liaise with CFIA officials and advocate for members to achieve desired outcomes.
It is anticipated that the regulations will be finalized in June of 2015, and that they will come into force immediately upon publication. Before, during and after the new requirements come into force, RCC will host member webinars and develop guidance materials and checklists exclusive to RCC members.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Jason McLinton, Senior Director, Public Affairs at: [email protected] or 613-656-7903