Trade Compliance

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CFIA Consultations on New Food Regulatory Framework

Posted June 12, 2014

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently seeking feedback from stakeholders on two issues related to the Canadian government’s food safety reform initiatives: 1) Incorporation by Reference; and 2) Private Certification.

1) Incorporation by Reference

“Incorporation by reference” is a term used to describe a means to allow a document, not in the body of the regulation, to be made part of the regulation.  Such documents could be technical or non-technical standards, methods and guidelines. The new Safe Food for Canadians Act provides explicit authority for the incorporation of any document, regardless of its source, into the regulations.

The legal effect of incorporation by reference is to write the words of the incorporated document into the regulation as if it had actually been reproduced verbatim. Documents incorporated by reference therefore have the force of law. The use of appropriately incorporated documents could make the food safety regulatory system more responsive and possibly help with the speed of regulatory change. This approach may present concerns however in that the law is fragmented between different texts – both the regulation and the incorporated document would apply for compliance purposes. Where a document is maintained by a third party, the government will have less direct control over the content and any future changes.

The consultation period for providing feedback to the CFIA on its “Incorporation by Reference” discussion document ends on July 28, 2014.

2) Private Certification

Private certification schemes are formal, documented food safety systems that are developed and administered by the private sector. For a company to achieve certification to a private scheme they must meet specific requirements that are often designed according to internationally accepted standards for food safety.

CFIA is currently looking to enhance its approach to risk-based oversight by assessing industry’s use of private certification schemes. As such, the CFIA is seeking feedback from stakeholders on its discussion paper entitled “Use of Private Certification to Inform Regulatory Risk-Based Oversight”.

While new, relevant, reliable information will enable improved decision-making, the CFIA recognizes that all schemes are not equal, therefore will look at each individual scheme from the perspective of its regulatory requirements. As part of the process the Agency may also use this information to conduct better planning in the allocation of its resources. This discussion paper is a first step in generating feedback on the Agency’s early thinking on formalizing its approach to leveraging industry’s use of private certification schemes.

The consultation period for providing feedback to the CFIA on its “Use of Private Certification to Inform Regulatory Risk-Based Oversight” discussion document ends on July 28, 2014.