Operational procedure: Permissions verification of Safe Food for Canadians licence
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- Reference documents
- Operational procedure
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff on verification activities to determine if the regulated party holds a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence, and has correctly identified the type of activities they conduct; commodities associated with those activities; and if they have a Preventive Control Plan (PCP); in their licence profile. Inspection staff will verify documents related to the issuance of licence permission using a commodity inspection task type.
This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in Section 3.0.
- Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA)
- Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
- Food and Drugs Act (FDA)
- Food and Drug Regulations (FDR)
The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the above legislation are identified and explained in the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.
3. Reference documents
- Standard inspection process
- Standard regulatory response process (SRRP)
- Digital Service Delivery Platform tools and resources: SFC Licence Application Search (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11466749)
- Digital Service Delivery Platform tools and resources: Searching for Parties and Establishments (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 10859888)
- Program direction: Preventive control inspections frequencies for food (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11010733)
- Industry guidance: Food business activities that require a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations
- Industry guidance: What to consider when applying for a Safe Food for Canadians licence
- Tool kits for food businesses: Licensing interactive tool
- Tool kits for food businesses: Preventive Control Plan (PCP) interactive tool
Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:
- Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Glossary of Key Terms
- Integrated Agency Inspection Model: Glossary of Terms (Annex F)
- My CFIA Glossary of Terms
Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.
6. Operational procedure
Under the SFCR there are businesses that are required to obtain a licence for the activities they conduct or plan to conduct. A business may choose to apply for one licence that covers all of its establishments, activities and types of food commodities, or multiple licences that would cover unique combinations of establishments, activities and types of food commodities. Industry guidance: What to consider before applying for a Safe Food for Canadians licence provides guidance to industry to set up their licence structure.
Inspectors may conduct the licence (permission) verification task for various reasons. For example, inspectors may verify the permission prior to conducting a Preventive Control Inspection (PCI), issuing an export certificate, during a food safety investigation or when inspectors are made aware of errors with the regulated party profile.
Inspection staff must complete this task:
- prior to the first inspection, within the current defined frequency of the inspection cycle (as per the Program direction: Preventive control inspections frequencies for food (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11010733))
- when conducting sample collection, commodity inspection, export certification, food safety investigation or follow up to a complaint
- if the inspector is not familiar with the party or establishment profile
- the inspector needs the information to make an informed decision
- the inspector has reason to believe that the party or establishment information related to activity or commodity has changed
- at any other time that it is deemed necessary in consultation with the supervisor or specialist
Inspection staff must conduct the permission verification task for all activities and commodities covered under the Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence(s). One commodity inspection case is created in DSDP for each regulated party to include the verification of all licences, including all the activities and commodities associated to each licence. Within the one commodity inspection case a separate permission verification task is added for each licence held by the regulated party. The verification activities conducted for each licence, including any non-compliances observed is entered separately for each task.
Inspectors may be required to seek assistance and/or advice from their supervisor, manager or other commodity inspectors to complete the inspection. This approach will result in:
- avoiding multiple inspectors conducting the same task
- avoiding the issuance of multiple non-compliances to the same regulated party and for non-compliances of the same nature (error within the regulated party profile)
- aligning with a single food inspection approach
6.1 Prepare for inspection
Refer to the SIP section 3, Step 1. In addition to the general guidance provided in the SIP, consider the following.
Collect available information about the regulated party that may be used to:
- consult the sector-specific timelines to determine if the regulated party is required to have an SFC licence, a Preventive Control Plan, or preventive controls
- identify the activities listed under the licence
- identify locations listed under the licence where each activity is conducted
- identify commodities and sub-commodities listed under the licence
- identify the fixed place of business where importer is conducting business related to import (Canadian importer vs Non Resident Importer (NRI))
This information is crucial when planning and conducting an inspection, determining compliance and deciding what activity, licence, and location would be impacted by CFIA regulatory responses or enforcement actions.
Open a separate DSDP inspection case when verifying the food permissions and their associated activities. This verification task should not be added to the scope of any inspection case as they need to be tracked separately. This will ensure consistent case management business rules are followed to enables work planning and reporting processes.
|Inspection task type||Commodity inspection|
|Inspection level 1 task||Verify documents|
|DSDP Inspection level 2 task||Permission verification|
6. Conduct the inspection
Refer to the SIP, Section 4, step 2 for general information about conducting an inspection. Only supplementary information (if any) unique to the inspection task is included.
- Conduct the permission verification task off-site (inspectors are not required to do an onsite visit for conducting the permission verification inspection).
- If the permission verification is conducted in relation to a PC inspection, commodity inspection, sample collection or an incident response, inspectors can relate the permission verification case to the reason for inspection by recording references in the "Additional reference ID" field.
6.2.1 Verify the regulated party has a valid licence
Inspectors conducting a licence verification must be familiar with the industry guidance documents: Food business activities that require a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and What to consider before applying for a Safe Food for Canadians license.
6.2.2 Search for a permission
To verify if the regulated party has a valid SFC licence, refer to the reference document: Searching for Parties and Establishments (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 10859888) in the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP) Tools and resources page (accessible only on the Government of Canada network). Inspectors could also search by the client's legal name on the Safe Food for Canadians – Licence registry to determine if the business holds a licence.
If no party or establishment profile for the regulated party is found in the DSDP, a licence has not been issued to the party or establishment, but an application for licence may be pending.
|a permission for the regulated party exists in DSDP||verify the status of the licence is "issued or amended", and continue to step 6.2.3|
|the permission search for the regulated partyTable Note a does not show any results||follow the procedures in the SFC Licence Application Search (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11466749) to see if an application for a licence has been submitted for the regulated party|
|an application has been submitted and the status of the application is "in progress"||
confirm party information and continue to step 6.2.3
if the application is pending a Pre-licence verification (PLV), the inspector may cease the inspection activity until a licence has been issued
|a permission is not issued and an application has not been submitted||continue with the verification to determine if the regulated party has a PCP (if required). A compliance decision should be made after all verification activities are completed|
the regulated party's licence has been expired
the regulated party has not applied for a licence or issued one
the regulated party confirms in writing that they no longer perform any activities requiring a licence
inform the provincial or territorial authorities as per established agreements (if required)
notify the party in writing that, the party/establishment will be removed from export eligibility lists
take action to remove the establishment/party from export eligibility lists (if applicable). Follow the operational procedures in Procedure for maintaining food export eligibility lists
encourage the regulated party to remove their party profile from My CFIA by requesting an amendment
no enforcement action required
the regulated party's licence has expired
the regulated party has not applied for a licence or issued one
they continue conducting prescribed activities that require a licence
|continue to section 6.2.7 to determine compliance and take appropriate actions|
6.2.3 Verify commodities and activities permitted under the licence
To verify the type of commodities and activities that are permitted under the licence (assuming a licence was issued):
- follow the steps above to locate the permission for the party and/or establishment
- review the permission by selecting the profile name or establishment name
- scroll down to the licence activities to review the details
- if there are multiple establishments associated to a party, all related activities will appear
- from the drop down menu adjacent to the party/establishment name on the green banner, select SFC activity commodities
- navigate to the drop down arrow beside SFC activity commodity associate view and select SBI-DRS SFC: Licence issue summary/SAC: Résumé des licences délivrées
- review the type of activities, sub activities and commodity and sub commodity types that are authorized under the licence
- most domestic food processors will need to identify the same activities for both inter-provincial trade and export
- request a list of activities and sub-activities conducted by the party and compare against the DSDP profile information or verify the accuracy of the profile during PCI inspection (if the permission verification is triggered by a PCI)
Regulated parties who sell food online (via internet) must also include activities related to import, export or interprovincial sale in their profile.
For activities other than import and export (for example; prepare for interprovincial trade) verify the following are identified:
- the activities (for example, process, treat, preserve), and sub activities (for example, smoke)
- the commodities (for example, L 1 dairy) and sub commodities (for example, L2 cheese)
- an establishment where those activities are conducted
The link to the establishment information appears in the licence activity section under the "establishment" column.
Importers and exporters (party level) are not required to identify an establishment in their profile if the sole activity they conduct is import or export. However, if a party (importer or exporter) is conducting processing activities in addition to import or export activities, they must identify an establishment in their profile.
Click on the establishment name to locate the establishment details and confirm the status of the establishment is "active".
- Inspectors can also follow the procedures in the DSDP tools and resources: Searching for Parties and Establishments (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 10859888) to verify the licence holder has an establishment that is identified in the DSDP.
Note: Inspectors may choose to export the list of activities for the party or establishment from the DSDP into an excel sheet and use the sheet to verify the accuracy of the information onsite and during inspection.
To export the list of activities for the regulated party from the DSDP into an excel sheet:
- open the "permission" tab in the DSDP, and select a permission of type "licence"
- under the "licence activities" section within the permission:
- click on "see the records associated with this view" icon on the right above the list of activities. This will open the "SFC activity commodity associated view"
- from the "SFC activity commodity associated view" menu, select "active SFC activity commodities" to open that view
- once in this view click on the arrow next to "export SFC activity commodities", choose "dynamic worksheet", click "export" and the list will open in Excel
- save or print the excel document
6.2.4 Verify licence holder information
Locate the "Licence Holder Information" column in the permission page for the licence number. The legal name of the regulated party is the name under which the licence holder conducts prescribed activities. Verify that the status reason of the licence holder information is "validated". If the licence holder information is not validated, the licence holder may be in the process of changing their licence holder information.
A licence holder may change their legal name. For example: changing from "ABCDE" to "Bob's Deli Inc." To request a legal name change, the licence holder must provide a "certificate of name change" from the province and from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to the My CFIA support team and upload supporting documents. The certificate must indicate that the business number (BN) has not changed.
Licence holders may have party profile names or operation names that are different from the legal name, however the focus of this inspection is to verify only the legal name.
If the business structure of the licence holder indicates "sole proprietorship" (that is an unincorporated business with only one owner), and an establishment is associated with the licence, the address of that establishment should not appear on any other licence profile.
However, a business owner's physical location may be included on the licence of another entity when a change of ownership occurs. Duplicate establishment addresses in DSDP under a different party profiles may also be the results of a change of tenant or a food hub/ commercial kitchen situation. Inspectors must find out the reason for having same establishment on two different licence profile before taking enforcement actions.
Change of ownership
A change of ownership happens when a party's legal entity status changes (that is, the sole proprietor changes or the sole proprietor becomes a partnership or corporation). The sole proprietor may still appear as the owner in the licence profile until they surrender the old licence. The new entity must create a new My CFIA profile and provide their new Canada revenue agency (CRA) business number to apply for an SFC licence or amend their existing profile to add the newly purchased establishment to the existing profile. For example: company Robert Inc. holds an SFC licence and has establishment 123 associated to their licence. Robert Inc. transfers the ownership of the establishment 123 to the company Sunny Foods.
Robert Inc. may transfer the ownership completely and surrender their old licence. In this case Sunny Foods will either obtain a new licence and will add establishment 123 to their profile (if they did not have an SFC licence), or they will amend the existing licence (if they already have a licence) and add establishment 123 to the existing profile. Establishment 123 will appear on both company profiles until Robert Inc. contacts the National Centre of Permissions (NCP) and request to surrender their licence and the old establishment profile is deactivated.
Robert Inc. may transfer the ownership of establishment 123 partially and keep certain activities in their licence profile that do not require to be conducted at an establishment. In this case, the licence profile for Robert Inc. must be amended to remove establishment 123.
Note: Typically, change of ownership requires a new profile. However if a licence was validated as "sole proprietor" or "partnership" but the licence holder never applied for any permissions and wants to change their legal name and BN due to incorporation, Enrolment would "repurpose" the same party profile to reflect the changes.
During the change of ownership, the parties may continue their business activities until the change of ownership is completed as long as both parties meet the regulatory requirement to conduct activities and handle commodities which they are authorized to do so. and there is no reason to believe that conducting these activities would present a food safety risk. Inspectors must consult their supervisor prior to taking any enforcement actions and assess these situations on a case by case basis.
6.2.5 Verify PCP requirement and written PCP attestation status
When an applicant enters the commodity and activity information into their My CFIA profile, the system auto completes the information in the "PCP requirement" column based on the information provided for the commodity(ties) and activity(ties). The applicant is then given an option to check a box indicating that a written PCP is prepared and available. Applicants often assume that this box has to be checked, even if they do not require a written PCP and do not have a written PCP.
The accuracy of system generated information for the PCP requirements column depends on the accuracy of the information provided by the party. Inspectors should not rely on this information solely. To verify the PCP requirements:
- use the Preventive Control Plan (PCP) interactive tool to confirm if a written PCP is required for the type of activities and commodities authorized under the licence. Enter the commodity and activity information from the regulated party's DSDP profile in the interactive tool to see if a PCP is required for the type of activities and commodities identified
- if the regulated party is required to have a PCP and they have checked the box indicating they have a PCP, request a copy of the PCP to verify the accuracy of the statement
- no further action is required if PCP covers the activities/commodities identified in the licence
- if the regulated party is not required to have a PCP, but they have indicated they have a PCP, move to the next steps in the process. In this case, the regulated party may be advised to correct their profile, but enforcement action may not be required
- if the regulated party requires a PCP, does not have a PCP, and is conducting prescribed activities, they are in violation of SFCA 15 for providing false information. Inspectors must consult with their Supervisor to determine the most appropriate regulatory response.
Inspectors are not required to verify gross annual income for the regulated party to determine PCP requirements.
- If the regulated party requires a written PCP but has not developed one, a PC inspection is not required. The inspector must deactivate the inspection case in DSDP with an appropriate status reason and continue to section 6.2.6. The Status Reason field must say: Inspection request cancelled.
- When amendments are made to the licence by NCP the PCP attestation may be removed automatically. In these situations inspectors are not to include this as part of their inspection findings.
6.2.6 Verify work shift document
In the case where a licence is issued to slaughter food animal, to manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, or label a meat product or to store and handle an edible meat product in imported condition, verify that at least one work shift document is available on file.
- Verify the licence number(s), physical address of the establishment, processes and the species slaughtered by the licence holder matches those approved on the work shift document(s)
- Verify that licence holder's hours and days of operations on the work shift document(s) matches the actual hours and days of operation
- Verify DSDP party profile information matches the information on the work shift document(s)
Refer to the Operational Guideline: Work shift document (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 1088813) for further information.
If the regulated party is not operating within the parameters of an approved work shift document or the information on the work shift agreement does not match the DSDP profile, follow the Standard regulatory response process and Food regulatory response guideline to determine the appropriate response to the non-compliance.
6.2.7 Determine immediate actions
The inspector, in consultation with their supervisor, may take immediate action based on the results of the licence (permission) verification inspection.
Example: A regulated party has requested an export certificate but upon verification it is discovered they are not eligible to conduct export activities under their existing licence. In this case, the inspector will refuse to issue the export certificate until the exporter has amended their licence to include export activities for the commodity they intend to export.
If a regulated party conducts activities of preparing, manufacturing or treating high risk food commodities without a PCP, the inspector may recommend action to suspend or cancel the licence, seize or detain non-compliant food or take other enforcement actions in accordance with the Food regulatory response guidelines.
Refer to the document How to respond to industry questions about My CFIA (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 12067519) available on the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP) Tools and resources (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) page if assistance is required for responding to a question from industry.
6.2.8 Determine compliance
Determine if the regulated party is compliant to SFCA 13(2) (conducting prescribed activities with a licence), SFCA 20(2) (sending, conveying, importing or exporting with a licence), or SFCR 86 (licence holder requiring a written PCP for any activities identified in their licence that they conduct in respect of a food or food animal). If a non-compliance to any of these requirements is identified, follow the procedures in the SIP 4.7 to determine the category of non-compliance and establish a reasonable time frame for corrective actions.
Assign the non-compliance to the licence (permission) verification task in the inspection case. All non-compliance related to the permission verification task must be recorded in the case created for that task. Follow the standard regulatory response process to determine appropriate enforcement action (if applicable).
Minor errors associated with profile information (for example, incorrect address, incorrect profile contact, etc.) must be assessed on a case by case basis to determine if the error warrants a non-compliance. In these situations, inspectors must work with the regulated party and request that they update their profile in My CFIA. If the client does not action in a timely manner or refuses to action, inspector can take actions as required.
Note: Having duplicate profiles in My CFIA is not considered a non-compliance.
If the regulated party has activities/commodities in their profile and they plan to conduct the activities on those commodities in the future but are not conducting them yet, refer to the Table 3 below to determine compliance.
the regulated party is conducting activities/commodities but these activities/commodities are not in their profile
the regulated party has activities/commodities in their profile that they plan to conduct in the future but are not conducting yet
A written PCP is required for conducting those activities on those prescribed commodities
the regulated party's PCP does not include the activities/commodities in question
this is considered a non-compliance,
issue a Letter of Non-Compliance (LoNC)Table Note b to the regulated party, identify the Non-Compliance (NC) and the date by which the regulated party must amend the PCP to include preventive controls for those commodities/activities.
Alternatively, the regulated party can remove the licenced commodities/activities that are not included in the PCP from their profile
the regulated party has activities/commodities in their profile that they plan to conduct in the future but are not conducting yet
a written PCP is not required for conducting those activities on those prescribed commodities
this is not considered a non-compliance,
remind the regulated party that they must implement preventive controls when conducting those activities on those prescribed commodities to ensure safety and compliance to the regulatory requirements.
Note: When determining the timelines within which the corrective actions must be initiated, inspectors must consider the following and work with the regulated party to determine a reasonable time frame:
- number of changes to be made to the profile
- some changes can be made directly by the regulated party while others require involvement form My CFIA Enrolment team within National Service Centre
- changes to business structure or legal name may require My CFIA Enrolment team's consultation with various divisions within the CFIA
6.3 Communicate the results
Refer to the SIP, section 5, Step 3, to communicate the non-compliance to the regulated party. Record the inspection findings in the licence (permission) verification inspection case.
If the inspection report has identified a non-compliance that may result in suspension of the licence, a Template covering letter for food inspection reports (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 12787033) should accompany the results of inspection to the licence holder.
A cover letter is not required if the non-compliance is related to conducting a prescribed activity without a licence.
A cover letter is required if the non-compliance is related to not having a PCP for an activity/commodity identified in the licence, conducting an activity for a commodity that is not identified in the licence, or providing false and misleading information.
Refer to section 6.3 of the Food preventive control and traceability inspection – Compliance verification system for further information.
Note: For the purpose of this task, the Related Case Output field is not to be completed as this field is only used to communicate with NCP for permission tasks related to export or domestic permissions such as Pre-licence verifications (PLV) and Licence amendment verifications (LAV).
6.4 Conduct follow-up
Refer to the SIP, section 6, step 4. In addition to the general guidance provided in the SIP, the following applies.
When a non-compliance is identified:
- create a follow-up domestic permission inspection case in DSDP to record follow-up details by selecting "create follow up" from the non-compliance record within the parent domestic permission inspection case
- consult with your Supervisor, Regional contacts, or Area Operations Specialist to determine if an immediate follow-up is required
- conduct a follow-up to non-compliances related to the licence requirements [SFCA 13(2)], or condition of the licence (permission) [SFCA 20(2)], by confirming the licence status in the DSDP as per section 6.2.2
If verification of the permission is occurring at the same time as a PCI, or commodity inspection, the inspector may follow up on the non-compliance for verification permission issues when conducting follow up for PCI or commodity inspection activities.
Note: To assist inspectors with retrieving inspection cases delivered under domestic permission trigger, Data Reporting and Service Division has created a custom view titled "domestic permission cases containing permission verification tasks" in the DSDP.
For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF) (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).
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