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Operational procedure: Permissions verification of Safe Food for Canadians licence

On this page

  1. Purpose
  2. Authorities
  3. Reference documents
  4. Definitions
  5. Acronyms
  6. Operational procedure

1. Purpose

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.

2. Authorities

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

4. Definitions

Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:

5. Acronyms

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:

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:

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:

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.

Table 1 – Recording inspection data in the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP)
Trigger Domestic permission
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.

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.

Table 2 – Determining if the regulated party has a valid SFC licence
If Then
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

and

the regulated party has not applied for a licence or issued one

and

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

and

the regulated party has not applied for a licence or issued one

but

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):

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 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".

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:

6.2.4 Verify licence holder information

Legal name

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.

Business structure

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:

Inspectors are not required to verify gross annual income for the regulated party to determine PCP requirements.

Note:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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.

Table 3 – Determining compliance for activities/commodities include in profile but not conducted
If Then

the regulated party is conducting activities/commodities but these activities/commodities are not in their profile

or

the regulated party has activities/commodities in their profile that they plan to conduct in the future but are not conducting yet

and

A written PCP is required for conducting those activities on those prescribed commodities

and

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

and

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:

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:

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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