Understanding the Safe Food for Canadians Regulation (SFCR)
It has always been Labplas main priority to better understand the industries and the needs of the users in order to better respond to their necessities and skillfully answer all their questions. It is also Labplas priority to always keep up with the new norms and legislations related to those industries.
On February 22nd 2019, Labplas assisted to a conference in Quebec City given by NFS International concerning the new Canadian regulation in the Food Industry (i.e. Safe Food for Canadians Regulation (SFCR)).
Based on this overview of the regulation and examination of the differences between the SFCR, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) and certified Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) norms, it is clear that they all essentially have the same goal (i.e. to protect consumers) but vary in their essence. Indeed, each norm or regulation has their own distinctive differences. In the table below we have underlined what we believe to be the most important aspects of the four regulations and norms mentioned above.
Table 1: Differences between SFCR, FSMA, FSEP and Certified GFSI norms ¹
|Requirements||SFCR||FSMA||FSEP||Certified GFSI norms|
|Scope||Food for human consumption||Food for human and animal consumption||Food for human consumption||Food for human and/or animal consumption|
|Categories of Products||All categories||Does not include juices, fishes and seafood, acidic foods and alcoholic beverages||Mandatory legislation for some products||Every product|
|Food Risk||Physical, chemical and biological hazards||Physical, chemical (including radiological) and biological hazards||Physical, chemical and biological hazards||Physical, chemical (including radiological) and biological hazards|
|Food Fraud||Labelling (non-fraudulent)||Vulnerability Assessment||N/A||Vulnerability Assessment|
|Preventative Control Plan||Risk Assessment||HARPC||HACCP||HACCP|
|Environmental monitoring||Proof of efficiency||RTE / Verification of Sanitation PRP||Sanitization program
|Yes, all norms|
This new regulation (SFCR), put in place January 15th 2019, sets the ground rules for all companies in Canada involved in the processing steps of the foods we consume. The SFCR, contrary to certified GFSI norms such as the BRC Global Standards, has fewer directives as to what steps need to be taken. The SFCR has specific goals, but gives the companies the freedom to choose their own preventative control plans (PCPs) that are more in tune with their product and permit to avoid or eliminate different hazards. This implies that all companies need to have a good understanding of all the risks associated with not only their products, but also their entire supply chain and all the activities performed within, and outside of the building that could cause a threat to the safety of the product.
This may remind you of a relatively new concept that has been booming in the last few years and that is now used in their experimental phase in the Food industry, which is the Blockchain technology. The Blockchain’s principles are now used in the food supply chain to have better traceability and transparency, in the steps coming from the farm to the table. Indeed, with this technology all players involved in the process have to give information and data about many aspects of the food, including its safety.
Indefinitely, even though this new regulation doesn’t tell you explicitly to use knowledges and principles known in the industry, it is still understood that they must be used to achieve the ultimate goal. If you refer yourself to the table, you will see that the PCPs, one of the prominent concepts of the SFCR, are done by companies making their own risk assessments. However to do a thorough risk assessment it is important to follow steps included in the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), such as the flow process chart. Therefore, known principles are key steps used in the process for a proper compliance of the regulation.
Moreover, preventative measures are one of the most important, if not the most important, part of the new regulation. To ensure the protection of consumers, environmental monitoring serves as proof of the efficiency of the whole process.
In summary, the SFCR is a new regulation put in place to protect Canadians from consuming any unsafe food. This is done through licensing of establishments by the CFIA that are deemed safe, and thus follow the guidelines of the regulation. This was put in place to replace many other regulations for all the different categories of food products, such as the “Fish Inspection Regulations”, the “Dairy Products Regulations”, the “Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Regulations”, etc. All of these categories have now been regrouped under this new regulation (SFCR).
This change comes from the globalization of all markets, including the food market. Also, outbreaks and food frauds that have been all over the News in recent years have also made consumers more aware and knowledgeable on food safety issues that could potentially harm them. Consequently, this has increased consumer’s standards which forces companies to become more demanding on the quality of their product and more transparent in all stages of their processes.
As a result, to protect consumers from all these dangers the industry needed to have newer, stricter and easier to follow guidelines. Subsequently, Canada’s Government decided to replace the regulations mentioned above to do just that and so companies would have to take action. Indeed, in this new regulation, companies are asked to be more proactive in their demeanour.
¹ Thabet, B. NFS International (2019, February 22). Règlement sur la salubrité alimentaire au Canada, similitudes et différences avec HACCP, GFSI et FSMA. Retrieved March 7, 2019.