Common Approaches to Food Safety in US and Canada – Part 2

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 by Sara Zborovski

As set out in the first of this two-part series on the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Act, similar themes run through both Acts.  In this second  part of the series, I will continue to outline the common aspects of the two food safety systems.


Both Acts specifically focus on food moving across borders, and put the onus firmly on importers to verify that there are systems in place to prevent unsafe food from entering the country.

The FSMA has a chapter titled “Improving the Safety of Imported Food”[1] which includes provisions for the foreign supplier verification program and the voluntary qualified importer program.  Both of these programs encourage importers to work with the FDA by offering expedited review and importation of food from compliant importers.[2]

The SFCA prohibits the sending or conveying of a food commodity from one province to another, or to import or export, unless the person is authorized to do so by a registration specifically made under the Act or by a license issued under the Act.[3]  These registrations are non-transferable.  Conditions of registration and licensing will likely be set out in regulations.

In addition to the above provisions, as part of this focus on imported food, both Governments have acknowledged the need to work with foreign governments to harmonize the registration and inspection of food facilities.


Finally, both Acts acknowledge that food safety issues will arise, and provide for improved capacity to properly respond.  As an example, the FSMA requires the FDA to establish pilot projects in coordination with the food industry to explore ways to quickly and effectively identify people who may have received tainted food in order to mitigate a foodborne illness outbreak.[4]  The SFCA provides for the making of regulations to provide for improved traceability of any food commodity.

[1] FSMA, Title III.

[2] FSMA, sections 301 and 302.

[3] SFCA, section 10, see too: sections 20 to 22.

[4] FSMA, section 204.

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