Food Importers to be Subject to New Licensing Requirement

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Agency) is in the process of implementing a requirement that will require importers of certain foods to be licensed. The requirement will be introduced under the proposed Imported Food Sector Products Regulations (Regulations) to be promulgated under the Canada Agricultural Products Act. The new licensing requirement will not apply to imported foods already regulated under existing Canadian food safety legislation, such as meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and certain processed products. Products expected to be subject to the new licensing requirement are infant formula, meal replacement foods, snack foods, beverages, alcoholic beverages, beverages confectionaries, vegetable fats, oils and grain products.

Under the proposed regime, importers of these foods will be required to have a preventative food safety control plan in effect that minimizes the risk of a food-borne incident, a recall plan and a process to notify the Agency if an importer becomes aware of a hazard in a food that poses a risk to the public.

It is speculated that the proposed Regulations will prohibit the licensing of non-resident importers and require that the license holder either be a Canadian resident or be represented in Canada by an agent or other third party. This will have an impact on how foreign suppliers of these foods currently operating as non-resident importers continue to do business in Canada in the future.

The draft version of the Regulations is expected to be published for comment in the fall of 2012.