Exporting food: United States Foreign Supplier Verification Program
Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the United States (U.S.) started graduated enforcement of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) in May 2017. FSVP requires U.S. importers to verify that food imported into the United States has been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. safety standards.
To read more about U.S. FSVP rule, please visit the Final Rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals.
What does this mean for U.S. importers of Canadian food
The FSVP requires U.S. importers of foods regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) to provide evidence that the food they receive from foreign suppliers is manufactured under acceptable food safety controls.
Canada and the U.S. have a Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement (FSSRA). The FSVP provides modified requirements to U.S. importers when they import food that is covered under the FSSRA from Canadian manufacturers that are in good regulatory standing with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The FSSRA applies to foods regulated by the US-FDA and includes the following products:
- fruit and vegetables
- shelled eggs
- dairy (except "Grade A" milk and milk products)
- fish (except farmed catfish, catfish products and molluscan shellfish)
- processed products; and
- manufactured foods
Note: the FSVP requirements excludes food that is intended for further manufacturing and processing by a U.S. processor operating in compliance with FSMA requirements.
What does this mean for the Canadian food industry
Canadian food businesses that prepare food for export with respect to products which are under the scope of the FSSRA, require a licence issued by the CFIA under the authority of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). The term "prepare" is defined in the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). For more information on SFCR licensable activities, please refer to Annex B of What to consider before applying for a Safe Food for Canadians licence.
The CFIA publishes a Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry which lists all types of SFC licensed food businesses that are considered to be in good standing with the CFIA.
To be considered in good regulatory standing, SFC licensed food business operators need to comply with preventive control requirements and maintain acceptable traceability requirements. Under the SFCR, an acceptable Preventative Control Plan (PCP) is required for all meat and fish and seafood establishments or for any food establishment when a CFIA export certificate or other export permission is required. CFIA may verify the compliance of establishments through Preventive Control Inspections (PCI).
Under the FSSRA, SFC licensed Canadian food business operators that maintain compliance with SFCR requirements will automatically meet the FSVP requirements related to food safety controls. The CFIA understands that the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) verifies that U.S. importers meet FSVP requirements by ensuring that the foods they import into the U.S. from Canada come from Canadian food business operators listed in the Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry. For detailed information on FSVP requirements for U.S. importers, Canadian food businesses should refer to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
Please refer to the tools, resources and guidance materials for food businesses under the SFCR, as needed.
To access online services such as obtaining your licence, please enrol with My CFIA and create a profile for your business. You are able to apply for an SFCR licence online or access information about the licence and regulations through your My CFIA account.
The CFIA's role
The CFIA oversees federally licensed Canadian food business operators. This oversight includes verifying that food business operators follow their PCP (if applicable) and meet traceability requirements of the SFCR. The CFIA also exchanges information with the US-FDA following notices of food safety non-compliances of products from SFC licensed Canadian food business operators (for example, recalled products and port-of-entry violations).
The CFIA's Safe Food for Canadians Licence Registry supports U.S. implementation of modified FSVP requirements. The registry is publicly accessible on the CFIA's external website. The CFIA adds, amends, and removes Canadian food business operators from the registry, as necessary.
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