Food Safety

Safe Food for Canadians Act

Safe Food for Canadians Act

On June 7, 2012, the federal government introduced into the Senate Bill S-8, the "Safe Food for Canadians Act". If adopted, this legislation would consolidate Canada's eight separate food inspection programs, using different inspection methods and tools, into one cross-commodity program. The proposed law would modernize and strengthen food safety by: improving inspection and enforcement consistency; facilitating a risk-based allocation of enforcement activities and resources; and, permitting enhanced controls on food imports. The Canadian Meat Council, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and the Further Poultry Processors Association of Canada issued a joint press release, welcoming the legislation in principle while emphasizing the desire of the meat industry to engage in government consultations on the interpretation and application of the new law.

During testimony to the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee on June 28 as well as in a follow-up letter on August 29, Canadian Meat Council Executive Director Jim Laws: re-iterated the recommendation of federally-inspected establishments that there be a single, national standard for meat inspection in Canada; advocated for transparent and inclusive consultations with industry on government proposals to incorporate documents into regulations "by reference"; cautioned that the proposed legislation could broaden the power of inspectors to unilaterally access personal, personnel, financial and other information unrelated to the purpose of verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance with the Act; and, indicated satisfaction with the proposed legislative constraints governing the proposed power of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to provide exemptions to the requirements of the Act.

The Safe Food for Canadians Act received Royal Assent on November 22, 2012. The supporting regulations are expected to be released for public consultation in the Spring of 2013. The legislation will come into force once the Canadian Food Inspection Agency concludes with the formal regulatory process. This is expected to take place in December 2014.