Twenty-first meeting of the Agri-Subcommittee on Food Safety: Record of decision
May 10, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario
- The meeting focused primarily on the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), its implementation, lessons learned and challenges experienced from both a government and industry perspective.
- Following the VCRT revitalization discussion, there was agreement that the ASFS would have a conference call to discuss input on the revitalization process.
- The ongoing need for Food Safety engagement between government and industry was discussed. Specific questions included which Federal departments have mandates to address Food Safety and where would the best fit for the ASFS be for future delivery.
- The co-chairs welcomed the President of Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) who provided opening remarks. She noted that CFIA has committed to continuous evolution to keep up with science, technology and the global reality. She was interested to hear from the members of the roundtable on their perspectives and noted that strong relationships between industry and government are needed.
- The co-chairs welcomed the new members of the roundtable representing the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) and Health Canada.
An Update on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
- CFIA provided an update on the SFCR implementation to date, what they did to prepare for the anticipated high demand for information from industry and some of the lessons learned during the process thus far.
- To prepare for the regulatory implementation rollout, CFIA focused its efforts in the areas of: internal coordination which included training, communicating and guidance; ongoing communication and engagement; and, digital service, which promoted the use of their revised digital platform including the My CFIA platform where business can request and be issued a Safe Food For Canadians (SFC) license.
- The roundtable members encouraged CFIA to ensure there is consistent information being relayed by all CFIA staff especially when asked difficult questions.
- Action Item: 21-1: For a future meeting, industry requested a presentation on certification and third party audits, to learn more about how they work. (CFIA).
- Action Item: 21-2: CFIA to provide additional details on inspectorate training, that is training requirements moving forward.
The SFCR and Canadian Trade
- CFIA discussed how the new SFCR act and regulations will have an impact on Canadian exporters and importers of food. The following areas are applicable under the new act and regulations:
- foods intended for human consumption (including ingredients) that are imported, exported, or shipped from one province to another;
- animals for human consumption, which may originate from meat products intended for export or interprovincial trade; and
- some of the provisions relating to traceability, labelling and advertising that apply to foods intended for intra-provincial trade.
- The SFCR's new guidelines were sent out to trading partners as information and all but one country responded that they were ready to implement the new requirements.
Future Changes to the SFCR
- CFIA provided a verbal update on the next phase of the SFCR.
- The next phase will address issues such as transportation and distribution as well as fixing some of the glitches identified during the implementation of the regulation (like the juice under 90 days rule).
- CFIA noted that they will expand their reach to groups that haven't been consulted yet (transportation and the micro and small business sectors).
- Action Item 21-3: CFIA to use the ASFS to consult on the future changes to the SFCR.
Industry Experiences with the SFCR: Panel and ASFS Roundtable
- The Canadian Produce Marketing Association and Food and Consumers Products of Canada shared their experiences with the SFCR. They highlighted that it was useful to be involved with CFIA early in the process to help identify challenges.
- Key points from the industry panel included:
- Feedback from other countries seems to indicate that Canada's outcome-based system makes sense and that the regulations are easier to follow, compared to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
- Industry noted that while there is a lot of information on the My CFIA website it can be daunting to navigate. The guidance documents are also daunting.
- Industry identified a few areas that could be addressed: consider the food service sector (restaurants and UberEats); transportation; and vendor qualification.
- ASFS members also shared their experiences with the panel. They noted that their experiences from their associations have been mostly positive but that there are still issues that need to be addressed such as transportation, food service, labeling challenges and consistent training for the inspectorate that will result in consistent messaging. Industry also reinforced the importance of relationships and communicating and the need to keep it up.
Integrated Economic Agenda
- AAFC provided an overview of the Economic Strategy Tables, the Fall Economic Statement, and Budget 2019 initiatives as they relate to Food Safety. AAFC also encouraged members to consider how to best leverage these initiatives in their future work.
- Members reiterated the importance of food safety, how it is not optional and that it has always been treated as precompetitive.
An Update on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) and the AgriAssurance Program
- AAFC provided an overview of the AgriAssurance and Innovation programs, their mandate, funding levels and examples of approved food safety related projects.
- The AgriScience Program Cluster component is fully subscribed while funding remains for the AgriScience Project component.
- Industry noted that while industry contributions may be feasible for large, established commodities/sectors, consideration should be given to other means of in-kind contributions such as time committed outside of salary hours for smaller, niche commodities/sectors.
- Members also said that AAFC could more effectively promote program achievements noting that a lot of good work has been done but those successes are not widely known.
VCRT Revitalization Update
- AAFC provided an overview of the proposed VCRT model. Industry members recognized that revitalization is a worthwhile exercise.
- Industry members noted that it remains unclear which departments are responsible for food safety, beyond enforcement of food safety regulations, and who is best suited to continue the work of the ASFS providing a forum between government and the food industry.
- The ASFS members affirmed that the ASFS has become much more strategic lately and of high value in terms of industry/government collaboration. The industry co-chair suggested that while cross-cutting issues can be addressed through combined tables, half-day sector specific sessions are needed to focus on specific commodity issues.
- ASFS members suggested that they could work collaboratively to develop a letter, describing the positive aspects of the ASFS, which could then be sent to the Industry Engagement division for consideration at the next All Chairs call.
- There were concerns raised that some of the smaller sectors (for example, buckwheat) from the Special Crops Roundtable would not be heard if the tables are combined.
- CFIA noted that time spent on this table is very worthwhile, especially during the planning and implementation of the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulation. The ASFS provided CFIA with a broad perspective representing many commodities.
- Action Item 25-4:
- AAFC to share the next version of the VCRT revitalisation presentation with the ASFS.
- AAFC to organise a webinar for ASFS members to discuss the next iteration of the VCRT model.
- ASFS members are encouraged to provide input (individually or collaboratively, conference call or other means) to AAFC on the future direction of consultation models.
- ASFS industry members provided updates on their respective roundtables and on activities of interest to their sector/industry.
- Information was shared about the Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition's (CSCFSC) workshop on the use of risk management tools in Canada's outcome-based food safety regulatory system. The event will focus on whether or not process/policy/procedures can be developed to lay out the ground rules on how to use these tools in the outcome based approach.
The next ASFS meeting is tentatively scheduled for winter 2020.
|21-1||For a future meeting, industry requested a presentation on certification and third party audits, to learn more about how they work. (CFIA).||CFIA||Next ASFS meeting|
|21-2||CFIA to provide additional details on inspectorate training, that is training requirements moving forward.||CFIA||Spring 2019|
|21-3||CFIA to use the ASFS to consult on the future changes to the SFCR.||CFIA/AAFC||Spring 2019|
- Rosser Lloyd, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
- Dennis Laycraft, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
- Albert Chambers, Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition
- Erica Charlton, Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council
- Connie Kehler, Canadian Herb, Spice and Specialty Agriculture Association
- Susan Abel, Food & Consumer Products of Canada
- Olivier Beaulieu-Charbonneau, Dairy Processors Association of Canada
- Gordon Harrison, Canadian National Millers Association
- Pamela Harrod, Dairy Farmers of Canada (Phone)
- Sharon Mohammed, Maple Leaf Foods
- Brenda Carr, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada
- Alan Schlachter, Croplife Canada
- Lyzette Lamondin, CFIA
- Adam Arsenault, AAFC
- Heather Brown, Public Health Agency of Canada (for Mark Samadhin)
- Jon Friesen, Canadian Grain Commission
- Steve Norman, Health Canada (for Mae Johnson)
- Siddika Mithani, CFIA
- Tammy Switucha, CFIA
- Rick Fiarchuk, AAFC
- Rick Flohr, CFIA
- Daniel Burgoyne, CFIA
- Jeff Hall, Canadian Produce Marketing Association
- Boubacar Sidibe, CFIA (by phone)
- Amrane Boumghar, AAFC
- Eunice Njorge, AAFC
- Andrea Bernier, AAFC
- Shane Campbell, AAFC
- Adam Carley, AAFC
- Elizabeth Sepulveda, AAFC
- Brett Maxwell, AAFC
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