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New Requirements for Fresh Produce Exports to Canada

November 15, 2018

New Canadian regulations and rules for food, including import, export, labeling, and traceability, are set to come into force in January 2019, which may have a significant impact on Canada’s fresh produce industry.

As of January 15, 2019, Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) will come into effect. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) has been in consultation with the government department responsible, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), to discuss new requirements as they pertain to fresh produce and their potential impact on the industry.

According to the CPMA, some of the exact requirements around record keeping, information sharing and labelling as required by the new SFCR for prepackaged fresh fruits and vegetables are not necessarily a part of industry’s current practices – this has the potential to dramatically change labelling practices on consumer prepackaged fresh fruits and vegetables. A label must be applied, attached, or accompanies the food when it is provided to another person (including consumer prepackaged food) and must include the following information:

  1. common name
  2. lot code or other unique identifier; and
  3. name and principal place of business of the person by whom or for whom the food was manufactured, prepared, produced, stored, packaged or labelled

Separate requirements apply to retailers in Canada and there are exceptions to the above, namely that at the time of export, it is not required to provide a label with the information listed above. Exceptions to these labeling requirements at time of sale to consumers at retail include:

  1. food that are not a consumer prepackaged food, for example food that is presented in bulk display
  2. fresh fruits or vegetables packaged in a wrapper or confining band less than 13 millimeters in width; and
  3. fresh fruits or vegetables packaged in a protective wrapper, or a protective bag, that is clear and transparent and on which no information is shown other than a price, bar code, number code, environmental statement or product treatment symbol.

Furthermore, specific traceability requirements have been added, which requires the food business to ‘trace the food one step back’ wherein the concerned party prepares and keeps documents that indicate the date on which it was provided to them as well as the name and address of the person who provided it. These traceability documents must be kept for two years following actual receipt of the food and must be accessible in Canada, either via paper or online. Full regulatory requirements for fresh fruit and vegetable and be found here and timelines for compliance can be also viewed here.

Another significant introduction with the new SFCR is the requirement for buyers and sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables to be members of the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC). According to the CFIA, the present requirement for a CFIA Produce Licence has been discontinued, with the licences expiring when SFCR comes into force. Among other prohibitions, the new regulations for fresh fruit and vegetables prohibit one to “send or convey from one province or territory to another, import or export any fresh fruits or vegetables.” However, this does not apply to members in good standing with the DRC, along with several other exceptions for low volume, low value trading and selling. Self-assessment tools to determine if DRC membership is necessary can be found on the DRC website.


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