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New Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and small businesses

A small business owner standing inside his grocery store with his arms across his chest and a big smile on his face. Behind him are shelves filled with groceries.

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Regardless of their size, food businesses have an important role to play in maintaining Canada's reputation as a world leader in food safety, trusted both at home and abroad.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) introduce consistent standards across the food industry in Canada, which will help ensure food safety along the entire supply chain.

The new regulations require food businesses that import, or prepare food for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial boundaries to have licences, as well as preventive control plans that outline potential risks to food safety and steps to control them.

The regulations also help reduce the time it takes to remove unsafe food from store shelves, by requiring businesses to trace their food back to their supplier and forward to whom they sold their products. Retailers are only required to trace their food back to their supplier, not forward to consumers to whom they sold their products.

By developing the preventive controls and improved traceability required under the new regulations, small food businesses are better placed to produce or import safe products that their customers can trust. Their traceability records also mean more efficient and effective recalls, and minimize economic losses in the event of a recall.

Support for small businesses

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recognizes that some small food businesses may need more time and support to understand and prepare to meet the new requirements.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are now in force. While some requirements have to be met immediately, other requirements will be introduced in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size.

In addition, small businesses that make $100K or less in gross annual food sales have to have preventive controls in place (such as sanitation and pest control), but are not required to have a written preventive control plan. This exception will not apply to businesses that conduct any activity in respect to food animals, meat products, dairy products, fish, eggs, processed egg products, or processed fruits and vegetables.

CFIA has tools and plain-language resources available to help small businesses understand and prepare to meet the requirements – including multilingual fact sheets and guides to developing a preventive control plan with helpful templates.


The Government of Canada is committed to supporting increased productivity in small businesses to generate growth, create jobs and strengthen Canada's middle class.

Federal departments and agencies, provincial and territorial governments and not-for-profit organizations offer support for small businesses through the Canada Business Network, including programs to help businesses:

The CFIA is working with various levels of government departments to help small businesses access tools and resources to comply with the new regulations.

Visit Canada Business Network for information on funding and programs for small businesses.

To learn more about the SFCR, visit our tools, information and resources.

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