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Foreign food safety recognition: overview

What is foreign food safety systems recognition?

Foreign food safety systems recognition is the recognition that two countries' food safety control systems can achieve comparable levels of food safety, based on comprehensive laws, implementation and oversight programs, and monitoring of regulatory performance.

How does this benefit consumers?

Recognizing foreign food safety systems will allow us to focus our inspection resources on higher risk products from specific countries. As a result, it will give consumers greater confidence in the safety of imported foods.

Where we have confidence in a country's food safety system, we can adjust our inspection frequencies for food imported from that country and focus our inspection activities on imports where similar assurances of controls in the country of origin are not available.

How does this benefit industry?

Where Canada recognizes all or part of a foreign food safety control system, Canadian importers will have greater confidence that product imported from those countries will meet Canada's requirements.

Under the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, the CFIA is proposing to allow importers who do not have a fixed place of business in Canada, to obtain a CFIA importer license if they have an address in a country that Canada has officially recognized as having a food safety system that provides a similar level of protection as the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

How can systems recognition be used?

Some existing legislation such as the Meat Inspection Act and the Fish Inspection Act require recognition of systems as a pre-requisite for importation into Canada. For example, the Meat Inspection Act prohibits importation of a meat product into Canada unless it originates from a country with a meat inspection system comparable to Canada's and the relevant establishments in the country are approved in advance of importation.

Foreign food safety systems recognition can also be used where there is experience, knowledge and confidence between the importing and exporting country, based on a history of trade and high level of compliance. In this case, Canada would take into account the confidence it has established with the recognized country in planning the scope and frequency of its inspection activities.

Under the CFIA's proposed Safe Food for Canadians Act regulatory framework for federal food inspection, systems recognition will continue to be used as an import control tool.

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