The Safe Food for Canadians Act comes in to effect on January 1, 2015 and it is going to have an effect on every business involved in Canada’s food chain.
The Act puts all food inspection responsibilities under the umbrella of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency bringing together a number of disparate laws, like the Fish Inspection Act, The Canada Agricultural Products Act and the Meat Inspection Act, and their inspection authorities. It also sets out standards for all businesses involved in the food chain.
The Act has many similar requirements to the Food Safety Modernization Act in the US, meaning that once companies are compliant with Canadian law they should also be compliant with the US law which is a requirement for exporting to the US.
One of the biggest changes is to recall capabilities. The Act introduces traceability requirements to all businesses in Canada’s food supply chain, not just food processors in certain industries. That includes distributors who were largely exempted from previous traceability requirements.
It also extends those requirements to importers who will have to not only start creating the paper trail or start using the traceability capabilities of the ERP systems, but also work with their suppliers to collect all of the information necessary to comply with the Act.
The good news is that, even with the Act set to come into effect at the beginning of next year, the government plans on rolling out the enforcement of these new requirements to different industries in stages and, as is often the case with new business regulations in Canada, they plan on working with companies over time to become compliant rather than penalizing companies from Day 1.
Enforcement of the Act will begin with industries that already have traceability requirements. It is likely that the new amalgamated body will need significant time to adjust before it will begin expanding enforcement to the full extent of its mandate. So there is no urgency to ready your business to be able to trace products and ingredients from January 1.
However, it is time to start educating yourself on these new requirements. A good place to start is the Canadian Food Inspections Agency with information on how the Act will affect Canadian industry and importers and exporters.
Additionally, SYSPRO Canada is holding a webinar on October 2 to explain the changes and answer questions with Alan Grant of Food and Beverage Ontario, one of the industry representatives consulted in the drafting of the law, and Steve Bassaw of SYSPRO Canada who can talk about the practical considerations of preparing for and carrying out a recall.