How will CFIA’s modernization impact you?

October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm 1 comment

Earlier this year, a Senate  Bill was introduced (Bill S-11) to consolidate a number of food acts into a single Safe Foods for Canadians Act.  The SFCA will provide a more efficient legislative framework to govern most foods, regardless of the type of product. This seems a natural evolution for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as they move towards consolidation from several departments (in the early 90’s) to a single agency tasked with ensuring safe food for Canadians.

If this act is passed, all importers and domestic processors that sell products outside their province of origin, must obtain a license from CFIA. In order to acquire this, processors must demonstrate they have effective controls in place to ensure safety. Namely, these are “preventative food safety control plans” (or PFSCPs). Note CFIA is not saying everyone will require a full HACCP plan. Rather, the plan has to include good manufacturing practices, such as sanitation procedures, and implement appropriate “product and process controls” to ensure food is safe to consume. So, in many ways, it is similar to HACCP but the controls will depend on the level of risk inherent in the food being produced.

So, what does this mean for the food processing industry? CFIA is currently in the process of sharing their “inspection modernization” plans. For some plants that are currently registered (such as meat and dairy operations) little will change in the day-to-day management of food safety.  While not many of the operational details are known at this time, indications are that requirements will not be lessening. However,  indications are that industry will be tasked to take a stronger role in demonstrating that they have correct practices in place.  Processors that have never been federally licensed will have to implement systems that meet CFIA’s requirements of PFSCP (assuming they are  importers or trade  intraprovincially). This will include a large number of processors under the “non-regulated” sector, such as confectionery, and bakery products, to name a few.

So, what will these companies do? Larger companies with multi-product facilities that already require HACCP can benefit from their operational knowledge.  Smaller processors will have to independently examine their current practices and determine what is missing and should be included in their updated plans. There are a number of organizations that can assist, including the food centres within FOODTECH Canada.  Centres have expertise in helping companies develop, implement and audit HACCP-based systems, as well as train staff on food safety practices, such as sanitation, record keeping, recall, etc. Some centres have developed programs geared specifically to smaller processors with low risk foods.

Overall this progression should benefit the industry in that more and more retailers and vendors are asking for food safety assurance, such as the Global Food Safety Initiative. GFSI includes a process for smaller companies to obtain recognition over a number of years. The implementation of fully developed PFSCPs will go a long way to support such a goal, and this can be a double win for industry as CFIA is considering how to recognize food safety systems (such as GFSI) that have equivalent outcomes.

Industry strives to ensure that food is produced safely. Nonetheless, some companies lack internal resources to know what is needed in all scenarios. Therefore, an incremental approach makes sense, along with a great deal of hand-holding to ensure that everyone can achieve the desired outcomes. The end goal is to ensure that we have fewer and fewer incidences of compromised food, and with current news of massive recalls, it is clear that industry needs on-going support from a number of players.

Entry filed under: Food Industry News, Government/Regulations. Tags: , , , , .

Is Innovation Passé? You get what you focus on

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. IFS  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Right now it appears like WordPress is the preferred blogging platform available right
    now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?


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