Safe and responsive regulatory framework

Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector is a leader in job creation and innovation, and is vital to Canada's economy. To support this important sector, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is committed to its mission of safeguarding food, animals and plants.

The CFIA's existing regulatory approach has served Canada well. It is recognized as one of the best in the world. But risks to plant and animal health and food safety have changed considerably in recent years, together with new technologies and new ways of doing business, compelling regulators around the world to rethink conventional approaches to prevention and oversight. At the same time, a competitive agriculture and agri-food industry is one that can make continued investments in safety, which is the foundation of public trust and continued market access.

In light of these changes and challenges, the CFIA is implementing a modern regulatory framework that is safe and responsive. One that maintains high standards for health and safety while enabling opportunities for industry to innovate. The CFIA uses both mandatory instruments (for example, acts and regulations) and voluntary instruments (for example, guidance documents) to pursue its policy objectives. This framework focuses on mandatory instruments, specifically how to appropriately select from or combine the following two regulatory approaches based on such factors as the risk to health and safety and the track record of the regulated parties:

  • prescriptive requirements, where the regulation actually prescribes the specific standard, process or action that must be followed
  • outcome-based requirements, where the desired result must be met, and industry must demonstrate how it is achieving that result

Jurisdictions such as the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have all begun to balance these different regulatory approaches to mitigate risks to food safety, and to protect the plant and animal resource bases.

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