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New federal food safety requirements now in force for fresh fruits or vegetables

Starting today, new requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) come into force for most businesses in the fresh fruits or vegetables (FFV) sector that import, export or engage in interprovincial trade.

The SFCR makes Canada’s food system even safer by focussing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace.

Generally, for the purposes of the SFCR, fresh fruits or vegetables are considered to be “any fresh plant or any fresh edible fungus, or any part of such a plant or fungus, that is a food.” This includes any fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms or sprouts, either wild or cultivated

Under the new provisions for FFV, most businesses are required to maintain:

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  • Preventive controls that address food safety hazards such as microbiological contamination to food and that help to prevent contaminated and non-compliant food from entering the marketplace;
  • Written preventive control plans that document the risks to food and how these risks are being controlled; and,
  • Traceability documentation that track the movement of food one step forward and one step back in the supply chain.

New requirements for lot code labelling of consumer-prepackaged fresh fruits or vegetables that are not packaged at the retail level are also now in force. However, businesses will have until January 15, 2021, to use up existing packaging.

Most businesses that import or prepare FFV for export or interprovincial trade were required to have an SFC licence as of January 15, 2019.

In developing provisions in the SFCR that relate to FFV, CFIA consulted industry organizations including the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Horticultural Council and CanadaGAP

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency website provides SFCR resources tailored specifically for FFV businesses, including a fact sheet, information on traceability-specific labelling requirements and a recorded presentation about the regulations coming into effect today.

As of today, FFV importers who currently require a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence and do not have one may experience delays or rejection of their shipment at the border and may be subject to other enforcement actions.

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