Regulation of imported fish and seafood products in Canada
Importers must have a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence to import food, including fish and seafood products into Canada.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency's role
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for:
- verifying compliance with regulatory requirements within its mandate through inspection and surveillance activities
- taking compliance and enforcement action when non-compliance is found
- helping food businesses in understanding how to meet all applicable federal food legislation and regulations
Importers are responsible for complying with all legislative requirements set out in the Food and Drugs Act, the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the Health of Animals Act and their regulations.
To get a SFC licence, importers must have a preventive control plan, and meet all traceability requirements.
Importers are responsible for:
- identifying all of the risks associated with the products they import
- ensuring that the food has been manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, graded, packaged and labelled in a manner and under conditions that provide at least the same level of protection as food produced in Canada
- they must be able to demonstrate that the product meets Canadian requirements
Monitoring and surveillance
Canada has risk-based surveillance plans for fish and seafood that are set annually.
CFIA monitors for microbiological, chemical and physical hazards through sampling and testing of food products. Sampling includes testing for chemical residues, microbiological contamination, adulteration, allergens, additives, and compositional and nutritional accuracy.
The sampling program for fish and seafood includes both random and targeted sampling. The CFIA adjusts the plans based on product risk level, trade requirements, and compliance trends.
Compliance and enforcement
When non-compliance with the law enforced by the agency is identified, the agency follows the Standard Regulatory Response Process. The potential impact of non-compliances are assessed by the agency to decide whether further actions are required; including taking proper control and enforcement actions proportional to the seriousness of the non-compliance.
The agency publishes information on compliance and enforcement activities on a quarterly basis.
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