Language selection


Food Program Framework

PDF (578 kb)

Table of Contents

List of Acronyms

Agriculture and Agrifood Canada
Alternative Service Delivery
Canada Border Services Agency
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Emergency Response Plan
Food and Agriculture Organisation
Food and Drugs Act
Food and Drug Regulations
Food Illness Outbreak Response Protocol
Food Program Framework
Federal, Provincial, Territorial
Food Safety Emergency Response Functional Plan
Food Safety Recognition Program
Health Canada
High Profile Issue
Incident Command System
International Organization for Standardization
Information Management/Information Technology
Inspection Verification Team
Memorandum of Understanding
Preventive Control Plan
Public Health Agency of Canada
Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations
World Trade Organisation


The objective of this document is to outline the framework for the Food Program in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). It highlights for all food stakeholders, including consumers, industry, and governments, the core elements and key principles of an effective food control system.

The passage of the Safe Food for Canadians Act, in November 2012 sets the stage for important changes to the regulation of the food system in Canada. This new Act consolidates three different food inspection Acts and their corresponding regulations (and eight different programs) along with the food provisions from the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act into one overarching law. This enables the CFIA to apply consistent regulatory requirements and inspection approaches across all regulated food commodities and results in a legislative foundation for food consisting of two (2) federal statutes – the Food and Drugs Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA).

This Food Program Framework applies to all food commodities regulated under these two statutes and impacts food commodities and their ingredients that are domestically prepared, imported and/or exported.

This Framework is designed to function within the existing resources of the CFIA with scalable activities based on risk and resource availability.

This framework will be reviewed and updated every five years (or sooner if necessary) in line with the legislated five year review of the SFCAFootnote 1 . Any changes will be documented in the Document Control section.

Any comments or questions on this framework can be directed to:

Strategic Partnerships Division
1400 Merivale Road, Tower 1
Floor 6, suite 218
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
Attn: Food Program Framework

This document is intended to be read as if the SFCA is in force. It is expected that the SFCA will be brought into force once the Regulations under that Act are in place.

Executive Summary

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Food Program Framework describes how the CFIA establishes the requirements that control food and the way in which it uses its resources to produce the most effective impact.

The Framework is intended to provide stakeholders, ranging from industry and associations, to consumers and international regulatory bodies, as well as CFIA personnel, with a clear and transparent outline of the various activities related to food in a single resource.

The Framework

The Food Program is guided by four basic principles: 1) accountability, 2) consistency, 3) sound science, and 4) transparency. The environment in which the Food Program operates is rapidly changing and is complex. Globalization of the food supply, advances in production methodology, and in science and technology, and the modernization of international approaches to food safety are all challenging the way in which the CFIA operates.

The legislative framework for the Food Program consists of the following statutes: the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). The FDA and its regulations apply to all food sold in Canada, establishing health and safety requirements, compositional standards, and prohibitions relating to misleading or deceptive labelling, packaging, treating, processing, selling, and advertising. The SFCA applies to food commodities, providing for their inspection, safety, labelling, and advertising; as well as for their import, export and interprovincial trade. In addition, the SFCA defines the standards for food commodities and the establishments where certain activities are performed, and the licensing requirements for those who perform specific activities. The SFCA also provides for prohibitions against food commodity tampering (or threats to tamper).

The Food Program is built on the premise of risk-based oversight. Specifically, the Agency's activities are based on analyzing the risk associated with a particular issue and responding appropriately to manage the risk. This process starts with risk assessment – the potential harm a particular issue or incident could cause and the likelihood of it occurring. Thus, the greater the harm and likelihood of it happening, the higher the risk and the more resources the Agency allocates to managing the risk. Risk relates not only to food safety or human health, but also covers other corporate risks such as those to the economy (i.e. trade implications, fraudulent practices) and the effects on the strategic priorities of both the government of Canada and the CFIA.

Once the risk is understood, the CFIA then determines the most appropriate response to managing the risk: from working with foreign trading partners to manage the risk before the product arrives in Canada, to working with the domestic industry and associations to promote compliance. Other types of response could include carrying out inspections at regulated parties, conducting surveillance activities such as surveys and product sampling, requesting regulated parties to remove unsafe product from the distribution system, or not taking any action, if the risk is low or negligible.

To support the risk-based approach, there are several foundational elements for the Food Program:

The CFIA also develops and exercises emergency plans which provide an effective and efficient response to food emergencies. These plans outline the CFIA's responsibilities, the actions to take during an emergency, and how it uses the Incident Command System in responding to emergencies.

Finally, the Framework provides a logic model for the Food Program, as well as the roles and responsibilities for the various organizations within the CFIA, the governance employed by the CFIA, and the funding for the Food Program for 2014–15.

1.0 Introduction

Mitigating risks to food safety is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) highest priority. Safeguarding the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy is the driving force behind the design and development of the CFIA's programs. CFIA, in collaboration and partnership with industry, consumers, and federal, provincial and municipal organizations, works to protect Canadians from preventable health risks related to food and zoonotic diseases. The CFIA also supports Canadian agriculture and the ability of agri-food businessesFootnote 2 to enter and compete successfully in domestic and global markets.

To meet these objectives, the CFIA develops and enforces regulatory and program frameworks for domestically produced food as well as imported and exported food that meet both Canadian and international requirements. Regulatory and program frameworks are based on the most current and relevant information, and keep pace with a rapidly evolving, global environment. The CFIA also engages in outreach and consultation activities with key stakeholders and partners (including those in industry), consumers, other governments, and international trade and standards organizations. In so doing, the CFIA maintains open and transparent communication with its stakeholder and consultative groups, which is a key priority in maintaining world class approaches to food safety in Canada.

Within the food context, the CFIA develops and delivers oversight and regulatory responses to:

2.0 Purpose

The CFIA's Food Program is the plan that articulates how the CFIA will achieve its objectives related to food while the Food Program Framework provides the foundations upon which the food program is built and is the basis for an integrated and comprehensive program design.

The Framework is intended to provide stakeholders from industry and associations to consumers and international regulatory bodies as well as CFIA personnel with a clear and transparent outline of the various activities related to food in a single resource. The framework:

3.0 Guiding Principles

This Food Program Framework (FPF) is founded on the following guiding principles:


A number of key players have a role in the food control system:


The Food Program Framework is:

Sound Science

The Food Program Framework is based on the best available science and assessment of risks.


In line with the CFIA's Transparency Policy, the Food Program Framework is developed jointly with CFIA's partners and stakeholders through open and transparent consultation.

4.0 Operating Environment

The environment for food and agricultural production and distribution has changed rapidly in recent years. Global supply chains have fundamentally changed the way in which food is produced, processed, packaged, distributed, stored and sold. The resulting increase in production speed, volume and diversity of products has challenged regulatory systems worldwide.

Advances in science such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and food processing technology are similarly challenging regulatory agencies to respond. Emerging pathogens and diseases will continue to affect the regulatory landscape. Canada and its trading partners are undertaking modernization initiatives to address challenges that affect the global food supply and ultimately, the Canadian food supply.

Food safety incidents in recent years, both internationally and domestically, have heightened consumers' awareness of food risks resulting in heightened standards for safe food. Consumers are more connected than ever before and expectations are rising for safer foods and accurate labelling. The shifting consumer landscape – aging population, diversity and increased access to information – is affecting the way the food environment operates and demanding more accountability by industry for the food they make and transparency from the Government of Canada.

The approach to delivering food safety outcomes in the international arena is shifting as well. The international standard setting body for food safety, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, promotes the use of systems-based approaches as an effective means of delivering food safety outcomes. A systems-based approach means that those who have the primary responsibility for the safety of the food they prepare or sell – that is, food producers, processors and importers – implement preventive programs to identify and control food safety risks. Globally, it is recognized that the wider use of preventive and systems-based approaches to manage risk delivers better food safety outcomes.

5.0 Legal Authorities

The statutes and regulations noted in sections 5.2 to 5.4 provide the legal framework within which the CFIA operates and establishes the legal obligations with which food companies must comply. The CFIA's role is to ensure that this framework remains relevant and effective and reflects current science. The CFIA's food program is aimed at verifying compliance with these legal requirements and taking appropriate actions when non-compliance is observed.

5.1 International Standards

The increased globalization of food trade and the mobility of populations has heightened the importance of the international activities under the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Food Standards Programme, in particular those of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex)Footnote 3. The main purposes of this Programme are:

  1. Protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair food trading practices and
  2. Promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The Codex Program in Canada is managed by an interdepartmental Committee consisting of senior officials from HC, the CFIA, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Canada participates actively in the development of Codex standards and Canadian positions are developed in consultation with stakeholders representing federal and provincial/territorial government departments, consumer groups, industry associations, health care professionals and academia.

Adherence to Codex standards and related texts is voluntary and intended for use by national governments. The WTO encourages its members to base their food safety measures on Codex standards, where they exist, and these texts are used by the WTO as international benchmarks in trade disputes. It is Government of Canada policy to use international standards if they meet our regulatory objectives, i.e. where those standards and guidelines would achieve Canada's appropriate level of protection or fulfil a legitimate objective.

The CFIA also negotiates and enters into arrangements for the implementation of technical requirements for the international movement of commodities, negotiating export certificates and seeking recognition of Canada's system to facilitate access to foreign markets.

5.2 Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act (CFIA Act) provides the foundation for the creation of the CFIA, and describes the responsibilities, organization, resources, powers, and reporting framework of the Agency. The CFIA Act recognizes the responsibility of the Minister of Health for establishing policies and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada and the responsibility for the overall direction of the CFIA was given to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food. However, under an Order in Council approved in October 2013, the overall direction of the CFIA was transferred to the Minister of Health. This transfer means that the powers included in the CFIA Act, such as the power to set fees or order a recall, now reside with the Minister of Health.

The CFIA is responsible for enforcing the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) as it relates to public health, safety or nutrition as well as the administration and enforcement of all other provisions of the FDA (as it relates to food).

5.3 Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations

The Food and Drugs Act (FDA) applies to all foodsFootnote 4 sold in Canada, including both imported and domestically manufactured products at all levels of trade (interprovincial and intra-provincial). The FDA and its regulations, the Food and Drug Regulations, establish health and safety requirements for the sale of food in Canada, compositional standards for food and prohibitions relating to misleading or deceptive labelling, packaging, treating, processing, selling and advertising regarding food.

5.4 Safe Food for Canadians Act and RegulationsFootnote 5

The Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) applies to food commoditiesFootnote 6 and provides for:

The SFCA also establishes prohibitions against:

5.5 User Fees/Cost Recovery

The CFIA's Cost Recovery Policy and Framework, states that it is CFIA policy to charge a user fee for services that provide the service recipient with direct benefits beyond those received by the general public.

The objectives of the cost recovery policy are:

The framework will promote a consistent and robust approach to determining individual fees for services across Agency programs.

6.0 Food Program Elements

The food program first establishes legal requirements that regulated parties must respect and which are designed to control food risks. The program then designs the approaches to ensuring that food safety risks are managed by deploying inspection, sampling, surveillance, and other resources. Figure 1 below outlines the various elements of the Food Program.

Figure 1: Elements of the Food Program
Figure 1 - Elements of the Food Program. Description follows.
Description of the Elements of the Food Program

The image above illustrates the various elements of the Food Program in the CFIA. The image is composed of three rows of rectangular boxes with each row containing three boxes (for a total of nine boxes). There is a separation between the first row and the second row.

The first row of boxes are the Food Program Elements and are entitled (from left to right) Obligations of Regulated Parties, Risk-based approach to oversight, Risk Management Options.

The second and third rows of boxes are the Foundational Elements. The second row of boxes are entitled (from left to right) Risk Intelligence, Communication and Engagement, Policy Suite while the third row of boxes are entitled (from left to right) Learning and Training, IMIT, System Performance.

The words 'Legal Authorities' are centered between the first and second rows of boxes with horizontal arrows leading to the outer edges of the image on both sides.

6.1 Obligations of Regulated Parties

Using the authorities outlined in section 5.0 above, the regulatory requirements that apply to the food industry are composed of four key elements related to:

6.1.1 Licensing

Knowing who is doing what in the domain of imported and exported food as well as food that is prepared and sent from one province or territory to another is an important foundational element of the food program design. Under the SFCA, most regulated parties who prepare food commodities for inter-provincial trade or for export, and those who import food commodities require a licence issued by the CFIA. Licensing is a tool in the food safety regime that allows the Minister to authorize a regulated party to conduct an activity and, where relevant, attach specific conditions to the activities.

Regulated parties have the option of applying for a licence per establishment or per activity, or a single licence which would cover all of their operations in multiple establishments and/or multiple activities. If a single licence is issued for multiple establishments or activities, the suspension and cancellation of the licence would affect all of the establishments and/or activities subject to the licence. Once issued, licences are valid for a two year period and a fee will apply to obtain and renew a licence. A licence application or renewal may be refused if the applicant has not met the requirements of the SFCA and it regulations, has provided false and misleading information, or has outstanding unpaid fees.

From the licensing information, the CFIA would also issue establishment numbers for the purpose of risk-based oversight and in order to facilitate continued trade with foreign countries.

License holders and regulated parties are responsible for complying with all legislative requirements set out in the Food and Drugs Act and in the Safe Food for Canadians Act. This includes both food safety and non food safety requirements.

6.1.2 Food Safety and Other Regulatory Requirements

Food safety and other regulatory requirements apply to all foods sold in Canada as well as food commodities that are traded inter-provincially or internationally. Depending on the nature of the operation, the regulatory requirements are based on some or all of the following elements which would need to be addressed by regulated parties:

  1. Process and product controls for both food safety hazards and other regulatory requirements
  2. Sanitation and pest control
  3. Employee hygiene and training
  4. Equipment design and maintenance
  5. Physical structure and maintenance of the establishment
  6. Receiving, transportation and storage
  7. Traceability, recall and complaints

6.1.3 Preventive Control Plans

In most cases, a licence holder will be required to prepare, keep and maintain a Preventive Control Plan (PCP) demonstrating how all regulatory requirements are being met. This includes both the requirements in the SFCA and the FDA.

Licence holders and other regulated parties are responsible for:

Licence holders would also be required to notify the CFIA immediately when they have reason to believe that a non-compliant product that could have a potential impact on human health has entered the Canadian marketplace.

6.1.4 Commodity Specific requirements

In addition to regulatory requirements that apply to all food, additional requirements may be applied to specific commodities. For example, requirements for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry are tailored to address the need for controls that are specific to those commodities that are not captured in horizontal food safety requirements.

6.2 Approach to Oversight

The CFIA's food program is designed to:

To meet these objectives, the CFIA takes a risk-based approach to oversight of the food industry and to the identification of activities to mitigate risk.

6.2.1 Risk-based Oversight

In order to make sound and defendable risk management decisions and to effectively manage resources, the Food Program has adopted an integrated approach based on riskFootnote 7. This approach involves two distinct but related activities; risk assessment and risk management. Although distinct, these two activities are inter-related and share the responsibility for developing options to address identified or potential risks.

Figure 2 below outlines the risk-based approach.

Figure 2: Risk-based oversight

Click on image for larger view
Figure 2 - Risk-based oversight. Description follows.

Description of Risk-based oversight

The image above describes risk-based oversight. It is divided into two sections. The upper section depicts the Risk Assessment Model while the lower section is the Risk Management Strategy.

The upper section consists of eight boxes joined to form a square. The contents of the eight boxes are as follows:

  1. Commodity/commodity type
  2. Country of origin of the commodity and the ingredients
  3. Knowledge of the process/system/other interventions used to produce, process or market the commodity
  4. Environmental scanning, foresight and intelligence
  5. Compliance history of the establishment/industry
  6. Volume of production/shipment
  7. Intended end use
  8. Preventive control plan assessment

The first part of the lower section also consists of eight boxes joined to form a square. The contents of the eight boxes are as follows:

  1. Implementation of private certification schemes
  2. Foreign country assessments
  3. The impact on market accessibility
  4. The impact on the economy
  5. Risk assessment result
  6. The strategic priorities and direction of the government
  7. Legal implications
  8. Audit or recognition by external standards organizations

There is an arrow coming from the bottom of the upper section to the box entitled 'risk assessment result' in the lower section. This box is located in the upper right side of the lower section.

The second part of the lower section consists of an arrow coming from the lower section going to a box entitled 'Determination of Overall Risk'. The arrow continues from this box to the last box entitled 'Selection of Risk Management Options'.

6.2.2 Risk Assessment

The output of risk assessment is risk characterization. In order to characterize a risk, the risk assessors collect and analyze scientific data to produce a hazard identification and exposure assessment. Risk assessment is conducted to generate credible, objective, realistic and balanced analysis. In order to provide a level of confidence, the risk assessment should delineate the uncertainties and assumptions and outline the impact of these factors on the assessment. The risk assessment should not provide any decisions on the acceptability of the risk level or identify activities or actions to reduce the risk.

The CFIA is developing a Risk Assessment Model to conduct risk assessments related to licence holders. This provides a consistent and structured approach to analyzing food safety risks related to food and providing risk assessment results (a determination of the food safety risk of a licence holder) to inform risk management decisions. In order to determine the food safety risk, the model takes into account several sources of information including:

6.2.3 Risk Management

Risk management is the integration of risk characterization with other non-scientific considerations to make regulatory decisions. The output of risk management is an overall risk determination and the identification of activities to address the risk. In the CFIA's food program, some of the considerations that are assessed in arriving at an appropriate risk management response may be:

The design of the food management approach is no longer commodity based, but is now focused on four distinct functional areas: 1) food safety systems, 2) meat hygiene, 3) import/export, and 4) consumer protection and market fairness.

Private Certification Schemes

Private certification schemes are formal, documented food safety systems developed and administered by the private sector. They prescribe methods to obtain specific objectives and outcomes, and typically involve audits and certification, and in retail oriented schemes, the authorized use of logos that have meaning in the marketplace.

Private certification schemes can play a role in helping to achieve regulatory objectives, provided they are effective, credible and aligned with public policy objectives. While there is no intent to replace regulatory oversight, and while the CFIA will retain its regulatory responsibilities, it is increasingly recognized that certification to private schemes has potential to be used as a factor within risk-based allocation of regulatory resources.

The CFIA is developing a paper on private certification that will guide and inform the use of these schemes within risk management.

6.3 Risk Management Options

To complement the new organizational structure in the food program, CFIA is developing a Risk Management Strategy that documents the principles and the processes that the CFIA uses to best manage risk. The Strategy identifies the inputs required to make an informed decision (i.e. risk assessment results, impacts on the Canadian market, the economy and the environment etc.) and outlines the requirements to document and approve the selected risk management option.

Some of the options that could be applied to manage risk include:

6.3.1 Compliance, Control and Enforcement

The CFIA is developing a Compliance, Control and Enforcement Policy that will describe the CFIA's vision and approach to:

The Policy will establish the general principles for applying legislative requirements and describe the strategic context in which the CFIA conducts its regulatory activities. The Policy will also set out the overall approach to compliance promotion, compliance verification, control of risks and enforcement as well as the roles and responsibilities of government and stakeholders. Lastly, the Policy will highlight key criteria that are considered when determining the most appropriate regulatory response.

Compliance Promotion

Compliance promotion is defined as any activity that increases awareness, informs, motivates or changes behaviour, and encourages compliance with a regulatory requirement. The CFIA is developing a Compliance Promotion Strategy to address:

Compliance promotion should be a collaborative effort in order to be successful. Industry, regulators, third parties and consumers all play a part in securing compliance. Small businesses may be particularly challenged to meet regulatory obligations due to limitations related to human, financial, technical and time resources and a lack of specialized expertise to help them understand and comply with legislative requirements. Small businesses generally rely on information provided by the regulator or industry associations.

The main vehicle for compliance promotion products at the CFIA is the CFIA's website which holds information and links to various documents, references and guidance material. One of the most helpful products is the Guidance Document Repository. The repository provides a single location for all guidance documents for industry. The CFIA has also developed an on-line self-assessment labelling tool which helps producers, manufacturers and retailers create compliant labels.

To assist regulated parties, the CFIA has developed interpretive guidance and model systems. Interpretive guidance provides plain language explanations of regulatory requirements while model systems are processes that have been demonstrated, when applied properly, to achieve the regulatory outcome. Interpretive guidance and model systems related to the food program will be available on the CFIA's website.

Although it is recognized that industry has the ultimate responsibility for producing safe and compliant food, third parties (e.g. non-government organizations, academia and food technology centers) have technical expertise and specialized knowledge relevant to the food sector and can provide services or training tailored to meet industry needs. Industry can also provide leadership by promoting best practices, providing peer support and guidance. The CFIA also plays a role in the generation of compliance through communication with regulated parties and by providing guidance and other tools to generate compliance.

Complementary Voluntary Programs

Licence holders may consider a number of process control, quality or food safety management systems to assist with the development and implementation of their control program. Many of these are based on voluntary international standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization for food safety management systems, audit and certification bodies and accreditation.

The Food Safety Recognition Program (FSRP) is one such voluntary program. It is led by the CFIA with the participation of the provincial and territorial governments and industry. The purpose of the program is to provide a framework to support industry-led food safety systems in order to maintain the confidence of FPT governments, Canadian consumers and Canada's trading partners. Once fully recognized, the industry-led scheme can be accepted as a model system and factored into CFIA risk oversight.

Compliance Verification

The CFIA uses a consistent approach to verify that regulated parties are in compliance with all regulatory requirements. Compliance activities can take place:

  • in a foreign jurisdiction
  • at the Canadian border
  • at domestic processing facilities or importers' facilities
  • throughout the distribution system
  • at the point of final sale

The CFIA conducts inspections of regulated parties and inspects/samples products to verify compliance to regulatory requirements using a risk-based approach. Further to an annual priority setting exercise, CFIA resources are targeted to commodities, processes and establishments representing the highest risk to Canadians. Procedures are developed and inspectors are trained to deliver these inspection procedures in a consistent manner. A robust data capture and reporting system is utilized to record inspection findings, provide reports to regulated parties and to enable analysis of the performance of the food oversight system by the CFIA.

Compliance activities can be pro-active or responsive.

A typical inspection consists of:

  1. Preparation
  2. Conduct Inspection
    1. document review
    2. interview
    3. observation
    4. sampling
  3. Communicate Results
  4. Conduct Follow-up

The CFIA uses a variety of tools to pro-actively verify the compliance of regulated parties and products including establishment and product inspection, surveillance and monitoring, and sampling and testing. These activities are undertaken based on an annual work plan that targets areas of highest risk and is based on the best available science. The work plan and priorities are updated annually to respond to emerging risks and changing priorities.


Compliance verification activities can also be carried out in response to a potential food safety issue and/or non-compliance.

The goal of a responsive inspection is to verify whether or not a food safety hazard or non-compliance exists as well as to determine the nature and extent of the problem. This is to be done in a thorough, consistent and timely manner. Information obtained through the responsive inspection provides the basis for risk assessment and for the development of appropriate risk management strategies to control affected products. Several key activities included in this process are:

Response to Non-compliance

When non-compliance is determined, the CFIA takes control action and/or enforcement action that is/are commensurate with the seriousness of the non-compliance. The Food Enforcement Guideline provides structure and guidance in responding to non-compliance.

To ensure greater consistency in decisions and responses, Centres of Expertise will be established to provide a single point of interpretation and advice to inspectors when specific questions arise. Interpretations will be catalogued and distributed so that consistency is achieved in decisions and approaches.

There are a range of tools available to the CFIA to respond to non-compliance including:

Further, enforcement investigations are carried out by the CFIA to gather and secure evidence that may lead to a recommendation for prosecution. An enforcement investigation may involve:

Upon completion of the enforcement investigation, a determination will be made whether to recommend prosecution or not to pursue further action.

The CFIA publishes information about enforcement actions on its websiteFootnote 8.

6.3.2 Surveillance

The CFIA undertakes surveillance activities to:

Surveillance covers a wide range of activities including targeted inspections, sampling, post-market surveys and other data gathering activities and covers multiple hazards to human health including chemical hazards, microbial hazards (bacteriological and viral) and undeclared allergens.

There are generally four (4) phases in relation to surveillance activities:

  1. Prioritization
    The process of gathering risk information, assessing the applicability of the information to the Canadian context, integrating all relevant information with critical evaluation of uncertainties, assessing appropriate approach and determining feasibility (including method availability and enforceability).
  2. Policy implications
    Policy considerations are then applied to the prioritization of activities. This includes consideration of trade obligations, submission of industry data, lack of data (e.g. country of origin when there is an emerging market importing into Canada), issues of particular concerns to consumers, public opinion surveys etc.
  3. Execution
    The implementation of the surveillance activity.
  4. Analysis and reporting
    Includes the generation of reports to Canadians and the detailed analysis of data to elucidate trends/patterns and areas of uncertainties for inclusion in the prioritization step. Also includes analysis of long term risk management options such as enhanced surveillance, targeted inspection activities, outreach to affected industry sectors and education initiatives for Canadians.

7.0 Foundational Elements to Support Program Design

7.1 Risk Intelligence

The CFIA uses risk intelligence to gather information that will identify uncertainties and inform risk management activities. The CFIA, working with its partners in the food continuum, identifies possible risks to the food system based on the observations of:

The CFIA and its partners analyze risk intelligence information and respond accordingly (for example, adjusting risk ratings, conducting targeted surveillance or compliance verification activities).

7.2 Communication and Engagement

In order to develop effective policies and strategies, the CFIA values the perspectives of the stakeholders who are affected by our decisions. Some of these stakeholders include:

The CFIA has developed a set of values to support effective interactions with these various groups. These values are outlined in the CFIA's Statement of Rights and Service for Producers, Consumers and Other Stakeholders. The CFIA is also developing a Statement of Regulatory Excellence that set out the Agency's commitment to transparency and accountability as it develops regulations and programs. The values and principles in the Statement of Rights and Services include:

  1. The CFIA will treat stakeholders with respect, professionalism, fairness, and impartiality. The CFIA has developed a series of audience-specific guides to provide stakeholders with a better understanding of:
    • their rights when interacting with the CFIA.
    • how the CFIA works with its stakeholders.
    • the standards of behaviour by which CFIA employees abide.
    • how the CFIA reports on its inspection results.
    • how to reach the CFIA.
  2. The CFIA is committed to transparency and openness in its regulatory decision making. This includes clearly outlining regulatory requirements and consequences of non-compliance.
  3. The CFIA is accessible and provides timely information to all stakeholders whether from regulated parties who need to understand legislative obligations or to consumers who want to take measures to protect themself against risks.
  4. The CFIA treats its stakeholders fairly, respectfully and courteously. The CFIA's reputation and credibility are vital to the ability to deliver the mandate. As such, the CFIA conducts itself in a way that preserves trust.
  5. The CFIA is responsive to the needs of consumers and regulated parties. Stakeholder's comments and suggestions represent an opportunity for the CFIA to improve its policies, programs and services. The CFIA is committed to consulting Canadians and other stakeholders to understand their perspectives on significant policy and program issues that impact them. When developing legislative requirements, the CFIA considers the impact on regulated parties, including small businesses.

7.2.1 Consultation

Consultation ensures the development of good public policy. It supports open, transparent and accountable government. It also supports inclusiveness in the design, implementation and evaluation of public policy, regulation and programming. Consultation supports public confidence in the legitimacy and credibility of government policy and decision making, thereby facilitating the success of government initiatives. For the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Consultation Policy and Framework outlines an integrated, coordinated and consistent approach to consultation.

The objectives of the Policy are:

The following nine principles form the foundation of consultation processes. Adhering to these principles will create the conditions necessary for a successful consultation.

Principle 1: Commitment - commit to considering the results of the consultation process in the decision-making process.

Principle 2: Evaluation - evaluate consultations periodically throughout the process and at their conclusion. Evaluate based on objectives set out in the consultation plan, established at the outset.

Principle 3: Timing - organize consultation activities with appropriate timeframes and deadlines to allow participants reasonable time to prepare and provide their input.

Principle 4: Inclusiveness - encourage the participation of the broadest possible range of groups or individuals who have an interest in or who may be affected by decisions resulting from the consultation exercise.

Principle 5: Accessibility- provide equal access to the process, taking into consideration such things as language, physical disability, and socio-economic or regional background.

Principle 6: Clarity - ensure that the objectives and processes of involvement and feedback for consultation activities are clear, so they can be understood by those involved in the consultation process.

Principle 7: Accountability - define the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the consultation process, including who is required to provide information, who will be making decisions throughout the process, and who will be communicating with management and stakeholders.

Principle 8: Coordination - share within the Agency the viewpoints, perspectives, and comments collected during the consultation. Also take into account impacts on, and feedback from, other initiatives.

Principle 9: Transparency - share the results of the consultation with participants in a timely manner, appropriate to the degree of public involvement. This may include sharing a revised consultation document or a summary of comments document.

7.2.2 Complaints and Appeals

The CFIA has a Complaints and Appeals process that allows stakeholders to register complaints and appeals related to quality of service, administrative errors and regulatory decisions. The Office of Complaints and Appeals was launched on April 2, 2012.

Complaints and appeals are generally related to quality of service, administrative errors or regulatory decisions made by CFIA employees.

Complaints and appeals can be made:

The CFIA takes complaints and appeals very seriously, so these are handled in an efficient and transparent manner. The CFIA uses an incremental process to manage complaints and appeals which is described on the website.

7.3 Policy Suite

The CFIA has a suite of policies to promote consistency and outline the guiding principles regarding the development and design of the program. Annex B includes the full listing of the Agency's policies (both existing and prospective policies). Below, certain policies are described:

7.3.1 Domestic and Import Program Design Policies

The CFIA's is developing Domestic and Import Program Design Policies that provide direction to support consistent and coherent program design while providing some flexibility for unique situations. The policies underscore the regulated party's responsibility to ensure that Canadian requirements are met and clarify the CFIA's role as an oversight body. The policy requires a risk-based approach for designing control measures and compliance verification and is based on the following guiding principles:

7.3.2 Export Program Design Policy

The CFIA's Export Policy is being developed to provide consistency regarding export certification and to outline the approach to export certification for domestically produced commodities. This policy is founded on the premise that export certificates will be issued based on a systems-based oversight rather than lot-specific inspection.

For manufacturers who prepare food commodities for export, the licence requirements may differ depending on the specific situation. In a situation where an exporter requires an export certificate from the CFIA in order to export a food commodity, a written PCP is required in order to obtain the certificate. However, if an export certificate is not required, the exporter must still be licenced and meet the requirements of the regulations and those of the foreign country, but a written PCP is not required.

7.3.3 Foreign Food Safety System Recognition

Where there is experience, knowledge and confidence in an exporting country's oversight, the recognition of foreign food safety systems can be a useful tool to enhance CFIA's risk based allocation of inspection resources. Where appropriate, the CFIA works with regulatory counterparts in other countries to assess the comparability of the foreign country's food safety inspection system in achieving similar public health outcomes. This encourages a systems-based approach to oversight and can reduce the burden on government and industry in establishing and determining compliance with regulatory requirements. The Foreign Food Safety System Recognition Framework outlines the approach that the CFIA follows in establishing system recognition arrangements.

The CFIA, in collaboration with its federal partners, also fosters bilateral relationship with foreign regulatory counterparts. For example, the CFIA maintains bilateral relationship with countries with comparable advanced food safety systems to Canada (e.g. the U.S., the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand) with the objective of sharing information, best practices and promote collaborative approaches, leading to better intelligence and enhanced policy and program design.

7.3.4 Alternative Service Delivery Policy

The CFIA establishes Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) arrangements, when they are feasible and merited, to deliver new programs and services or to transform the delivery of existing programs and services. The CFIA oversees and maintains arrangements to verify that they are effectively achieving desired outcomes and that potential risks are managed. The objectives of the policy are to promote:

7.3.5 Incorporation by Reference Policy

The objective of this policy is to describe incorporation by reference as a regulatory drafting tool and the considerations CFIA will assess when deciding when to use the tool. The policy also outlines the protocols CFIA will follow when the tool is used.

7.4 Learning and Training


The CFIA's Learning Policy recognizes that the CFIA is a learningFootnote 9 organization which is built around people, their knowledge, know-how, and ability to innovate. This learning policy is one of the key elements required to build and maintain a learning organization.

The CFIA manages all scientific, technical, non-technical and corporate learning through an integrated process to ensure linkages to Agency priorities and to increase efficiencies across the Agency. In addition, the CFIA uses a variety of tools to develop and deliver effective trainingFootnote 10 for its staff. This includes e-learning, traditional classroom training, on-the-job training, mentoring and coaching. These tools can be developed internally or sourced from external providers.

The CFIA has developed a New Hire Orientation Program to expose new employees to:

Within the HR framework, leadership is a top priority for the CFIA. Seeking and developing successors and leaders is critical to sustaining a highly skilled workforce and is seen as an integral aspect of risk management. To this end, the CFIA has developed a Leadership Development Framework that focuses on strengthening and sustaining strong, visionary leadership to effectively manage change in the CFIA. The framework addresses the need to align leadership and management development with strategic business priorities, thereby ensuring CFIA maintains and develops leaders with requisite competencies to meet present and future challenges. As part of this framework, leadership development roadmaps have been created to guide employees through the competency requirements as they move along the leadership pipeline.

The CFIA has also developed a comprehensive CFIA Learning and Training Architecture Forward Plan (2013-2019) that outlines the training requirements for all inspectors in the CFIA. This includes horizontal and commodity-specific activities and ranges from entry level requirements to leadership requirements. As an inspector moves through their career with the CFIA, they will follow this framework to provide a consistent approach to their learning and training and to ensure that employees are competent and qualified to do their job.

7.5 Information Management and Technology

Robust and integrated information management and technology is a foundational element of the integrated Agency Inspection Model.

The CFIA employs a flexible and scalable information system that provides easy access to complete and reliable information, enabling system and performance reporting as well as process optimization. The CFIA also uses modern IMIT devices for capturing data in the field and ensures that the support of these tools is at the highest standard.

7.6 System Performance

The CFIA utilizes a continuous review mechanism to monitor and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the inspection system and this framework. The CFIA reviews its programs in order to respond to new technologies and processes and to address new and emerging risks and to ensure that resources are being targeted to areas of highest risk.

Establishing key desired outcomes for the system as a whole and measuring performance against them allows the CFIA, regulated parties, and other stakeholders to use the results to adapt, improve, and become more effective at managing risks.

The objectives of the performance measurement system are:

To build its approach to measuring system performance, the CFIA developed a Systems Results Model (Figure 3 below) that outlines the relationships between CFIA resources and activities, the key participants who directly influence the system, and the desired outcomes. The Results Model depicts three levels of assessment required to ensure that system performance objectives are met. Based on the information obtained at each level, a comprehensive analysis would be conducted and system improvements would be scheduled and implemented as required, with higher-priority improvements taking precedence.

Figure 3: Systems Results Model

Click on image for larger view
Figure - 3 Systems Results Model. Description follows.

Description of the Systems Results Model

Figure 3 illustrates three levels of assessment that the CFIA would use to measure the performance of Canada's food safety system.

Level 1 is depicted at the bottom of the diagram in a horizontal box that spans the width of the image. This level covers the 'how' and is titled 'CFIA Operational sphere of control'. This level contains program delivery and enabling activities. Inside the horizontal box are the statements

  • internal activities and action are risk-based, consistent, efficient, relevant and professionally conducted (across the top of the box)
  • efficient, consistent and responsive operational, scientific and internal services (middle left side of the box)
  • risk-oriented and proactive program inspection system (middle, right side of the box)
  • CFIA programs (sub-programs, functional activities and activities) (across the bottom of the box)

Level 2 is above level 1 and consists of three side-by-side boxes. Level 2 covers the 'who and what' and is titled 'CFIA Sphere of direct influence". This level contains intermediate outcomes (actions) and immediate outcomes (awareness).

The first box is titled 'Government Regulatory Bodies and Support (e.g. CBSA, FPT and Foreign Governments, Standard-setting Bodies, Research and Lab Networks)' and contains the following statements:

  • Act consistently and effectively to prevent or remediate risks
  • Communicate clearly and consistently to Canadians re food and food-bourne risks (e.g. via CBSA)
  • Interpret regulations consistently
  • Have a strong preventative and consistent legislative, regulatory and policy foundation
  • Effectively guide, support and share information
  • Engage, understand and accept responsibility, cooperate and collaborate as appropriate

The second box in level 2 (moving to the right) is titled "Industry Representatives and Associations (e.g. sector representatives including associations and groups not directly regulated by the CFIA but who are part of the domestic as well as the international marketplace) and contains the following statements:

  • Work together to prevent the marketing of non-compliant product and to manage risks
  • Have confidence in the food supply and act accordingly
  • Have access to foreign markets
  • Understand food safety risks, take preventive and responsive action and be prepared for emergencies
  • Regulated Parties
    • Have commodities and shipment compliant with regulatory and international standards
    • Engage, cooperate and share appropriate information with the CFIA and other regulators

The statement 'Engage, cooperate and accept responsibility' is across the bottom of the box.

The third box in level 2 (again moving to the right) is titled 'Canadians' and contains the following statements:

  • Accept responsibility and act appropriately re the purchase, maintenance and consumption of food
  • Remain confident in the system and in the safety of food
  • Engage, become aware of and understand food safety risks

The third level at the top of the image covers the 'why' and is titled CFIA Sphere of Indirect Influence. This level contains the strategic outcome of the CFIA and consists of a single horizontal box with the text 'Safe and accessible food supply, risks to food minimized' in the box.

There are arrows between the boxes in level 2 and between the boxes from level to level.

Monitoring and evaluating performance is a CFIA responsibility. The CFIA has developed key performance indicators and targets to check whether policies, procedures and practices are successful in achieving the desired results. The expectation is that the development of performance information would be iterative and would mature over time.

The CFIA has also implemented Inspection Verification Teams (IVTs). The aim of the IVTs is to verify that the overall food safety system is effective and that food safety rules and standards are consistently and rigorously followed and enforced. IVTs will conduct in-depth assessments of a regulated party's controls and operations, as well as inspection activities. They will conduct unannounced spot checks across the country, selected on the basis of risk and other factors.

7.6.1 Performance Assessment

A variety of sources of data will need to be incorporated into the assessment process to reflect the complex system, the numerous players involved and the wide scope of CFIA responsibilities. Assessments would be focussed both internallyFootnote 11 and externallyFootnote 12 and be either continuous or periodic. Assessment results would be used for:

Some examples of current performance assessment tools available include:

  1. Field Observation – assess internal performance to identify gaps and issues in the effectiveness and quality of service delivery and in national consistency, the level of understanding of responsibilities, and the appropriate identification of non-compliance.
  2. Quality Management – assesses internal performance by tracking compliance with internal protocols, service standards and expectations.
  3. Audit – as per the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit, conduct periodic internal audits regarding the governance, risk management and controls in place for effective management practices and accountability.
  4. Evaluation – as per the Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation, conduct internal evaluations regarding the relevance and performance of programs, initiatives and policies.
  5. Surveys – assess internal and external performance by seeking input from CFIA staff, regulated parties and other system stakeholders on the function and quality of the system, the information and tools provided and suggestions for improvement.

8.0 Emergency Planning/Response

Emergency management is a shared responsibility. The CFIA has many critical emergency management responsibilities. However, to be effective, emergency-related activities must be a collaborative effort between all branches in the CFIA, other federal and provincial departments, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations and associations, including the industry, public and international sectors.

The CFIA's Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is a reference tool for CFIA staff having a responsibility for emergency management. Depending on the nature of the emergency, the plan is designed to be used in conjunction with other CFIA Functional Plans, Hazard Specific Plans and Procedures. The purpose of the ERP is to:

The Food Safety Emergency Response Functional Plan (FSERFP) describes the common response functions related to food safety emergencies. In particular, it describes how the Incident Command System (ICS) is used to provide enhanced governance and a management structure when responding to a food safety emergency. The principal objective of the FSERFP is to provide better coordination, more efficient use of resources, and enhanced communication throughout a response.

The purpose of the Food Safety Emergency Response Functional Plan is to:

CFIA's emergency response team structures are based on the principles of the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS is the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures and communications operating within a common organizational structure and is designed to assist with the overall emergency response. Its objective is to maximize team efficiency and minimize disruption to normal operating policies and procedures and can be described as a "function" oriented approach to an emergency. ICS can be used for a wide range of emergencies, both mandated and non-mandated, from small to complex incidents, and is capable of expanding or contracting to meet the dynamic needs of any situation. ICS training is required to ensure that all who may become involved in an incident are familiar with the principles of ICS. Several federal, provincial/territorial and industry organizations, including Public Safety Canada have developed emergency response systems based on the principles of ICS (e.g. Federal Emergency Response Plan).

Canada's Foodborne Illness Outbreak Response Protocol (FIORP), which is maintained by the PHAC, is the technical and operational protocol that guides how FPT public health and food safety authorities work together in the investigation and management of national or international food-borne illness outbreaks.

The principles underlying the FIORP are intended to guide the collaboration of the partners to maximize their effectiveness and efficiency during the investigation and response to multi-jurisdictional food-borne illness outbreaks.


9.0 Annexes

Annex A: Food Program Logic Model

Click on image for larger view
Food Program Logic Model. Description follows.

Description of the Food Program Logic Model

The Food Program Logic Model consists of seven levels as described below, starting with the top level. Each level starts (from the left) with a title box and continues with several more boxes to further describe the level.

Level 1: Inputs

This level has one horizontal box in addition to the title box. The contents of the horizontal box are:

Legislative Authority

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act,
  • Food and Drugs Act,
  • Safe Food for Canadians Act

Human Resources

Financial Resources


  • Operational or working-level data
  • Risk assessment and scientific evidence
  • Program evaluations and audits
  • Communication with stakeholders
  • Agency policies, reports and strategic plans

Level 2: Activities

This level has four horizontal boxes in addition to the title box. The contents of the horizontal boxes are:

Box 1: Education and Outreach

  • Exchange information with external stakeholders
  • Participant and lead on consultation, communication and engagement activities
  • Compliance promotion

Box 2: Program Management

  • Develop regulations, policies, training courses, guidance
  • Develop and promote use of preventive control plans
  • Integrated risk management approach

Box 3: Program Delivery

  • Verify compliance of high risk sectors and products
  • Enforce legislation
  • License regulated parties
  • Surveillance

Box 4: Partnerships

  • Engage with domestic and international standard-setting bodies
  • Engage in market access activities
  • Exchange and transfer knowledge and best practices

Level 3: Outputs

This level also has four horizontal boxes in addition to the title box. The contents of the horizontal boxes are:

Box 1:

  • Guidance material and information for industry
  • Communication strategies and products
  • Awareness campaigns

Box 2:

  • Procedures and operational directives for CFIA inspectors
  • Training and support materials for food program personnel
  • Risk-based priorities

Box 3:

  • Compliance activities, enforcement and control action
  • Inspection reports
  • Performance reports
  • Industry compliance/risk profiles

Box 4:

  • Memoranda of Understanding
  • Mutual recognition agreements
  • Assessment reports and determinations of comparability

Level 4: this level does not have a title box and consists of one horizontal box. The center of the box says 'Target Groups'. The left side of the box says:

  • Industry Associations
  • Regulated Parties
  • Consumers
  • Food Program Personnel

The right side says:

  • Related federal departments and agencies
  • Other jurisdictions (e.g. provincial, territorial, municipal)
  • International trading partners

Level 5: Immediate Outcomes

This level has three horizontal boxes in addition to the title box. The contents of the horizontal boxes are:

Box 1:

  • Proactive and risk-based approach to oversight to prevent marketing of unsafe food
  • Awareness of food safety principles and practices

Box 2:

  • Inspection resources are targeted to areas of highest risk
  • Effective policy and regulatory framework for food
  • Rapid response to food issues
  • Regulated parties are engaged and aware of regulatory obligations

Box 3:

  • Heightened coordination with service delivery and trading partners
  • Enhanced collaboration between the CFIA and OGDs

Level 6: Medium Term Outcomes

This level has one horizontal box in addition to the title box. The contents of the horizontal box are:

  • Domestic and imported products are compliant with Canadian regulations and iinternational agreements Risks to the Canadian public associated with food products are mitigated
  • The Food Community has a strengthened food safety culture
  • Consumers have increased trust and confidence in Canada's food supply

Level 7: Ultimate Outcomes

This level also has one horizontal box in addition to the title box. The contents of the horizontal box are:

CFIA Strategic Outcome

  • A safe and accessible food supply and plant and animal resource base

Government of Canada Strategic Outcomes

  • Healthy Canadians
  • A prosperous Canada through global commerce

There are a series of downward arrows leading from Level 1 through to Level 7.

Annex B: CFIA's Program Policy Universe (April 2014)

(Note: policies under development are in italics, *currently being reviewed and updated)

Click on image for larger view
Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Program Policy Universe diagram. Description follows.

Description of the CFIA's Program Policy Universe diagram

This diagram consists of a series of foundational policies across the top with three columns of specific policies below. Policies in bold are under development while those with an asterisk (*) are being reviewed and updated.

Foundational Policies

  1. Integrated Risk Management Policy – program framework for risk analysis
  2. Outcome Based Regulations
  3. Incorporation by Reference
  4. Regulatory Interpretation Policy
  5. Statement of Regulatory Excellence
  6. Statement of Rights and Services

The first column under the foundational policies is titled 'Program Design Policies – policies on why and how something is regulated and consists of:

  1. Domestic Program Design Policy
  2. Import Program Design Policy*
  3. Export Program Design Policy

The second column is entitled 'Regulatory Tool Policies – policies on when and how regulatory tools are used and consists of:

  1. Licensing and Registration Policy
  2. Sampling and Testing Policy
  3. Compliance, Control and Enforcement Policy
  4. Administrative Monetary Penalties Policy
  5. Foreign Systems Recognition
  6. Compensation Policy

The third column is entitled 'Program Delivery Policies' – policies on how program are delivered and consists of:

  1. Cost Recovery Policy
  2. Alternative Service Delivery Policy
  3. Consultation Policy
  4. Transparency Policy
  5. Private Certification

Annex C: Roles and Responsibilities

Food safety and compliance issues may arise anywhere along the food continuum.

food continuum diagram. Description follows.
Description of the food continuum

The above image depicts the food continuum in a series of images going from left to right. The first image is of a barn and silos and is titled 'production'. The second image is of a factory with three smoke stacks representing a processing facility. The third image is of a transport truck, titled 'transportation'. This is followed by an image of a cashier at a grocery store handling a paper bag of groceries and it titled 'retail'. The last image is of a girl and a boy sitting at a table with food on it representing the final point of service. There are right-pointing arrows between each image.

Above this row of images is an image of the planet with four arrows going from the planet to production, processing, transportation and retail.

Along the bottom of the image are three horizontal lines, each on top of the other. The first line stretches from production to point of final service and is titled 'industry'. The second line also stretches from production to point of final service and is titled 'government'. The last line stretches from retail to point of final sale and represents consumers.

Industry/regulated parties have the central role in producing/marketing safe and compliant food in Canada. However, the responsibility for the food safety system in Canada is shared by all levels of government as well as industry/regulated parties and individual consumers.

1.0 Regulated Parties/Industry

Regulated parties/industry is responsible for the safety of their products and for ensuring that they comply with Canada's food standards and regulatory requirements which apply equally to the domestic and imported food sectors.

Regulated parties include individuals, corporations, partnerships or other business associations/organizations carrying out operations in Canada that are subject to Canadian food legislation.

2.0 Government Partners

In October 2013, the CFIA became part of the Canadian government's Health Portfolio. Other organizations in this portfolio include Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and Assisted Human Reproduction Canada. This reorganization strengthens Canada's food safety system by bringing all three authorities responsible for food safety under one Minister. This also ensures clear focus, easy collaboration, and timely communication with Canadians when it comes to food safety. This change also further underscores the CFIA's commitment to food safety as a top priority.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food continues to be responsible for the CFIA's non food safety agricultural activities, including economic and trade issues, as well as important animal health and plant protection work. The CFIA continues to support the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in exercising these responsibilities and ensures a continued focus on Government policies, programs, and services that help drive the economic prosperity of Canada's agricultural sector.

The CFIA and other government organizations at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels provide oversight to verify that industry is meeting its regulatory responsibilities and that its products are compliant with applicable food standards and regulations, and take appropriate enforcement action when industry is not compliant. Other federal organizations, including Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), also contribute to the national food safety system.

2.1 The CFIA

The CFIA is dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.

To this end, the CFIA:

2.1.2 Roles of the various Branches in the CFIA

The following table (Table C1) outlines the roles and responsibilities of the various Branches in the CFIA

Table C1: Roles and responsibilities within the CFIA
Branch Roles and Responsibilities
Policy and Programs
  • Provides strategic policy advice, including in relation to legislation, regulations, and guidelines;
  • Sets program policies and procedures designs inspection programs, and provides related functional direction and required oversight;
  • Sets the administrative policies and procedures for managing ministerial correspondence and provides required oversight;
  • Provides functional direction, advice and centralized services related to parliamentary affairs, ministerial correspondence, the governance framework and senior executive outreach and events.
  • Coordinates federal/provincial/territorial (FPT) and international stakeholder engagement;
  • Sets the operational policies and procedures for delivering inspection programs and provides required oversight;
  • Delivers inspection programs (including issuing permits, certificates, licences, etc.);
  • Takes compliance and enforcement action, including in relation to food recall;
  • Leads stakeholder engagement related to program delivery.
  • Sets the operational policies and procedures related to the delivery of scientific advice – including risk assessment policy within the CFIA mandate, diagnostic and testing services, and research activities; and provides accreditation and oversight to internal and external laboratories;
  • Provides scientific advice;
  • Performs diagnostic and testing services in support of program design and delivery.
  • Performs research related to the CFIA's regulatory mandate.
Public Affairs
  • Sets the administrative policies and procedures related to the delivery of internal and external communications services and provides required oversight;
  • Provides functional direction, advice and centralized services in the areas internal and external communications, including delivery of outreach activities and information on Agency policies, programs and services.
Corporate Management
  • Sets the administrative policies and procedures for the management of financial resources and assets, and provides required oversight;
  • Provides functional direction, advice and centralized services in the areas of:
    • corporate resource management, costing and accounting operations;
    • asset and environmental management (including fleet), procurement services, real property and facilities management including physical security;
    • Agency business planning and reporting, including program and project management, and investments in assets and acquired services.
  • Supports Agency-wide projects.
Integrity and Redress Secretariat/Complaints and Appeals Office
  • Administers the CFIA process that allows stakeholders to register complaints and appeals related to quality of service, administrative errors and regulatory decisions.
Human Resources
  • Sets the administrative policies and procedures for the management of human resources, and provides required oversight;
  • Provides functional direction, advice and centralized services to managers on staffing, classification, compensation, recruitment and training;
  • Manages labour relations and the occupational health and safety program;
  • Manages collective bargaining, due to the Agency's separate employer status;
  • Provides reports on human resources demographics and other data, including trending and analysis.
Information Management and Information Technology
  • Sets the administrative policies and procedures for managing information, as well as information technology assets and systems, and provides required oversight;
  • Provides functional direction, advice and centralized services in the area of information management and information technology (IM/IT), including providing an appropriate information environment.
  • Supports the implementation and operation of IM/IT enabled business systems.
Audit and Evaluation
  • Leads internal audit and program evaluation;
  • Provides advice with respect to governance, risk management, controls and efficiency, effectiveness and performance of Agency operations;
  • Coordinates with the Office of the Auditor General and other external assurance providers on external audits and assessments;
  • Provides advice and secretariat support to the CFIA Audit Committee and Evaluation Committee.
Legal Services
  • Acts on behalf of the Minister of Justice as the official legal advisor to the CFIA on all matters of law connected with its operations. It:
    • provides legal advisory services on policies, programs, and operations;
    • supports litigation counsel who represent the CFIA in civil actions, federal prosecutions and judicial review applications; and
    • provides legal advisory services in the development of statues and regulations.
2.2 Health Canada

Health Canada has the responsibility of establishing national health, safety and nutritional standards for food, and for assessing the CFIA's food safety activities.

Among other roles, the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada:

2.3 The Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) mandate is focused on preventing chronic diseases and responding to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks in collaboration with the provinces and territories.

The PHAC maintains linkages with the CFIA during the course of a foodborne illness outbreak investigation, and advises the CFIA, upon confirmation, of any epidemiological link between the outbreak and a specific food product.

Information or intelligence shared by the PHAC with the CFIA may be used in developing risk management strategies, such as inspection and sampling programs, for targeting higher risk commodities.

2.4 The Canada Border Services Agency

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) ensures the security and prosperity of Canada by managing the access of people and goods to and from Canada. CBSA officers are present at strategic border points and undertake activities to protect the safety of imported goods, including food.

The CFIA liaises with the CBSA during border inspections and takes advantage of the CBSA border lookout process to identify high-risk goods as they enter the country. The two Agencies also share intelligence and information when developing risk management options to address specific situations.

2.5 Agriculture and Agrifood Canada

Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) contributes to the sectoral interests of the food industry and assists Canadian farmers and businesses produce the best possible food and agricultural products.

Through program and services, AAFC supports:

2.6 Provinces and Territories

Constitutionally, the Provinces and Territories have prime jurisdiction for foods manufactured and sold within their province/territory. However, given that the FDA/FDR and SFCA/R are federal in scope and that most of the provinces/territories do not have parallel legislative requirements, the CFIA and the provinces/territories share jurisdiction for the over-sight of intra-provincial manufacturers. Hence, the CFIA consults with its provincial and territorial counterparts as part of the design and development of risk management strategies for manufacturers who trade solely within a province.

3.0 Consumers

Consumers also have an important role to play in food safety by ensuring that they minimize their own risks through the safe handling and preparation of foods to protect against food-borne illnesses.

4.0 International Trading Partners

The Canadian food supply has become increasingly globalized, with more and more products being imported and exported than ever before resulting in a stronger role for our international trading partners. To ensure a safe food supply and to facilitate trade and market access, the Government of Canada works with our trading partners to conduct assessments of food systems. International trading partners also set import requirements for their own countries as well as provide export requirements for products exported from Canada.

Annex D: Governance

The CFIA, HC, PHAC and AAFC have national accountabilities that directly or indirectly impact the health of Canadians.

In 1999, HC and the CFIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines their respective roles and responsibilities and establishes principles and mechanisms for an effective working relationship. A "Roles and Responsibilities Framework" details the HC/CFIA responsibilities for each program element of the federal food safety and inspection system. The CFIA has also established MOUs with provincial and territorial counterparts on shared responsibilities, such as inspection activities and food-borne illness investigations.

In 2008Footnote 13, the CFIA, HC and the PHAC signed an MOU to provide the foundation for building a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities as they relate to human health and to provide links across the organizations to improve the design and delivery of integrated health-related solutions.

To support these MOUs, the inter-agency governance was updated in 2009 with the creation of the Committee on Food Safety (CFS). The CFS will continue efforts to facilitate the cooperation and collaboration of the three departments/agencies pursuant to the 2008 MOU. That MOU states that adequate governance will be put into place to support consistent application of this agreement. Accordingly, the CFS will:

1.0 Federal /Provincial/Territorial Governance

The FPT Regulatory ADM Committee was created in 2005 to provide leadership and strategic advice in the facilitation, development and implementation of coordinated federal/provincial/territorial regulatory and program initiatives. The goal of the Committee is to support Canadian agriculture, to promote protection of public health and to facilitate access to domestic and international markets.

FPT Regulatory ADMs also coordinate activities with the FPT Policy ADMs Committee (led by AAFC) to jointly develop and advance strategic policy and regulatory initiatives for consideration by Deputy Ministers and Ministers.

Three sub-committees report to the Regulatory ADM Committee - the FPT Food Safety Committee (FPTFSC), the Traceability Task Team, and the Council of Chief Veterinary Officers.

The FPTFSC was created from existing food-related FPT committees and is composed of government officials from Health and Agriculture Ministries across Canada enabling it a balanced perspective on food safety issues. The FPTFSC is co-chaired by a federal member and two provincial/territorial members representing the Health and Agriculture Ministries, and it reports to the FPT ADM of Health and of Agriculture. The main goals of the FPTFSC are to:

2.0 CFIA Internal Governance

Click on image for larger view
Canadian Food Inspection Agency's internal governance diagram. Description follows.

Description of the CFIA's internal governance

The CFIA's internal governance starts with the President who is supported by the Senior Food Safety Committee and the Senior Management Committee (SMC). The SMC is further supported by the Policy and Programs Branch Management Committee and the Human Resources and Corporate Management Committee. Below these two committees are the three Business Line Committee's (Food, Plant and Animal) as well as the International Coordination Committee and the Science, Policy and Foresight Committee. The last 5 committees are supported by sub-committee's as required.

Within the CFIA, the Senior Management Committee (SMC) is the senior forum for decision-making and information exchange and provides strategic direction for issues within the exclusive authority of the President.

The SMC is supported by two senior executive committees that provide recommendations and advice - the Policy and Programs Management Committee (PPMC) and the Human Resources and Corporate Management Committee (HRCMC). The functions of these two supporting committees are to:

PPMC and HRCMC are further supported by three committees aligned with CFIA's business lines (Animal Health, Plant, Food) and two horizontal committees (International Coordination and Science, Policy and Foresight). These five committees provide fora for representatives from the different Branches to:

2.1 Food Business Line Committee

The Food Business Line Committee is accountable for two main areas of responsibility:

  1. Providing guidance on policy, program and operational items that need to advance through the governance structure for further consideration by the CFIA's senior-executive level committees, and
  2. Developing planning, reporting and resource allocation proposals that correspond with the business line budget.

The roles and responsibilities of the Food Business Line Committee include:

2.2 Chief Food Safety Officer

The Chief Food Safety Officer (CFSO) has three broad strategic priorities:

  1. Driving the development and delivery of a horizontal management agenda for the food production continuum.
    On the domestic front, the CFSO will focus on bringing a more comprehensive perspective to food safety. By employing a broad lens inclusive of all components of food production – from seeds and feed, to slaughter and processing – the CFSO will seek to identify where along the food production continuum investments and interventions should be made so that consumers are provided with the highest levels of protection possible while cost effectiveness is achieved.
  2. Assessing evolving international standards, global trends and best practices shaping food safety approaches
    The CFSO will facilitate more international intelligence gathering and sharing to better understand food safety trends, identify emerging risks and incorporate best practices for informed decision making. This perspective will allow the Agency to better orient Canada's food safety system within today's global food production and distribution environment.
  3. Stewarding the "one health" convergence of human, animal and ecosystem health
    In recognition of the fact that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are intimately linked, the CFSO will, as an advocate for "one health," forge more collaboration between veterinarians, physicians, and other scientific-health related disciplines. The ultimate goal of this holistic perspective will be to ensure that Government efforts to protect public safety, the environment and animals are coordinated, complementary and synergistic.

To further enhance governance and oversight for high profile or complex food safety issues, the CFIA has created the Senior Food Safety Committee (SFSC). Reporting directly to the President, chaired by the CFSO and comprised of the Executive Vice-President and Branch heads, the SFSC will meet bi-annually to provide strategic advice on the management of food safety issues and incidents. The SFSC may also be convened during time sensitive and high profile incidents or events to provide recommendations to the President, and support and direction to the implicated areas.

Annex E: Planned Spending for the Food Program 2014/15Footnote 14

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Main Estimates 320,103,652.00 N/A N/A
Planned Spending 320,982,081.00 316,858,810.00 285,979,804.00
FTE's 2,940 2,932 2,748

Planned Spending for the Food Safety Program decreases by $35.0 million and 192 FTEs from 2014–15 to 2016–17. The major items contributing to this decrease are:

Date modified: