As of February 12, 2024, Canadian companies that import manufactured foods will face a major change in their operations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will introduce automatic verification of Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licences for imports of manufactured foods. This change is designed to strengthen food safety standards and ensure that only compliant products enter the Canadian market.
The challenge for manufactured food importers
However, this change may pose a potential problem for importers of manufactured foods. Companies without a valid SFC licence and without an adequate preventive control plan will face a serious obstacle: their goods will be held up at customs. This can result in significant delays, additional costs and supply chain disruptions. It is therefore imperative that importers prepare adequately to avoid these undesirable consequences.
The Importance of a Preventive Control Plan (PCP) for Importers of Manufactured Foods in Canada
The importation of manufactured foods into Canada is subject to strict food safety standards designed to protect the health of consumers. For Canadian importers, the Preventive Control Plan (PCP) is critical in this regard.
The PCP, which complies with the Canadian Food Safety Regulations, is a detailed document that guides importers in establishing preventive measures to ensure the safety and compliance of imported foods. It is an essential requirement for all import permit holders. They must comply with Canadian food safety standards.
Preventive controls, integrated into the PCP, are based on the principles of the Codex Alimentarius, an internationally recognized reference for food risk management. This approach, proven in many sectors, provides a solid foundation for anticipating, identifying and mitigating potential food safety risks.
It is important to emphasize that while many importers may be familiar with these approaches, implementing them remains essential to maintaining food safety according to international standards. Compliance with the PCP, from the point of production to final distribution in the Canadian marketplace, ensures a proactive approach to risk management throughout the supply chain.
The key steps involved in developing a PCP are summarized as follows:
Development of a PCP
- Identify the potential hazards associated with imported food products and the associated control measures.
- Implementing procedures and control measures at the foreign supplier(s).
- Meeting the requirements of consumer protection.
Implementing the PCP:
- Train employees. Follow procedures outlined in the PCP and maintain records.
- Periodic verification of PCP effectiveness through sampling, analysis and visual inspection.
Keeping the PCP Up to Date:
- Re-evaluate and update the PCP in the event of any changes (new suppliers, process changes, etc.).
- Conduct an annual PCP review.
The good news is that we're here to help you overcome these challenges. If you are an importer of manufactured foods and don't have your SFC licence or an adequate Preventive Control Plan, now is the time to start working on these elements. We can help you develop an effective preventive control plan to obtain your import licence. We're experts in food safety, and we're always on the lookout for important changes in the industry. Contact us today to discuss your needs and find out how we can help you succeed.
For more information
- Importing food into Canada: a step-by-step guide
- Automatic license verification for manufactured food imports
- Notice to Industry: Importing manufactured foods into Canada with a Safe Food for Canadians licence
- Guide for preparing a preventive control planner domestic food businesses