OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced new standards for food safety on Jan. 15. The regulatory agency released a statement saying Canada’s food safety system will be stronger by focusing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food.

"The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) are consistent with international food safety standards, and position Canadian food businesses to be more innovative and competitive, both at home and abroad,” said Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “They represent a vital step towards achieving our Government's trade target of growing agriculture and food exports to $75 billion by 2025."

The CFIA pointed out that the new rules reduce the administrative burden placed on businesses by replacing 14 sets of regulations with one. The new law also requires businesses to apply for a Safe Food for Canadians license if food will be exported or sent across provincial or territorial boundaries.

The US recently made it a requirement for all Canadian businesses that exported food must the more robust food safety standards. The SFCR will permit Canadian businesses to acquire a license that demonstrates that they meet the requirements under the US Foreign Supplier Verification Program to continue export shipments.

Businesses are also required to have preventive controls that outline steps to address potential risks to food safety, and to trace their food back to their supplier and forward to businesses who bought their products.

"By emphasizing prevention and faster removal of unsafe foods from the marketplace, the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations will build on Canada's world-class food safety system and go even further to protect Canadians," said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of health.

Some requirements went into effect immediately, while others will be phased in over the next 12-30 months, depending on the food commodity, type of activity and business size. The CFIA referred business owners to the agency’s website for sector-specific timelines.