Food business owners across Canada can now apply for a licence under the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations by accessing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's online portal.

Canadians are being encouraged to apply for a licence now in order to be ready when the regulations come into force on January 15, 2019. A Safe Food for Canadians licence costs $250 and will be valid for two years.

The new Safe Food for Canadian Regulations will replace 14 sets of regulations with one.

"Maintaining and enhancing the quality of our exports is vital to achieving the Government of Canada's trade target of growing agriculture and food exports to $85 billion by 2025," said AAFC Minister Lawrence MacAulay. "The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are consistent with international food safety standards, and will further enhance Canada's food safety system while positioning food businesses to be more innovative and competitive, both at home and abroad.

Depending on the food commodity, type of activity, associated risks and business size, compliance with some requirements will be necessary immediately on January 15, 2019 while others will be phased in over the following 12-30 months. Business owners are encouraged to consult the sector-specific timelines on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website to determine if and when new requirements apply to them.

Businesses that export food products as of January 15, 2019 will now need a licence if they need to obtain either an export certificate or certificate of free sale. The United States has recently made it a requirement for all Canadian businesses that ship food to the U.S. to meet their new food safety standards. The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations will permit Canadian food businesses to acquire a licence that demonstrates that they meet the requirements under the U.S. Foreign Supplier Verification Program so that they can continue trading with the U.S.

If a business currently has a registration or licence with the CFIA, that registration or licence will remain valid under the SFCR until it expires, even if the date of expiry of the renewed registration or licence occurs after January 15, 2019 (provided there is a statement on it indicating that it is also a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Act). Once expired, the business will be required to apply for a Safe Food for Canadians licence.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations were published in Canada Gazette Part II in June 2018. Businesses were informed that they would come into force six months later on January 15, 2019.

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