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New requirements for businesses in the fresh fruits or vegetables sector

The SFCR and FFV

Fresh fruits or vegetables are defined in the SFCR as “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, and they can be wild or cultivated.

CFIA worked with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Horticultural Council and CanadaGAP to gather feedback for developing provisions in the regulations that relate to the fresh fruits or vegetables sector.

Fresh fruits or vegetables businesses are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the requirements as soon as possible to ensure compliance by January 15, 2020.

Importer licensing

As of January 15, 2019, importers of fresh fruits or vegetables were required to obtain an SFC licence from CFIA.

As of January 15, 2020, importers who currently require an SFC licence and do not have one may experience delays or refusal of entry of their shipment at the border, and may be subject to other SFCR enforcement actions.

Preventive controls

Licensed fresh fruit or vegetable businesses, as well as growers and harvesters of fresh fruit or vegetables for export or interprovincial trade, will need to have preventive controls in place. The controls would aim to address food safety hazards, such as microbiological contamination, that may be introduced during the growing and harvesting of fresh fruits or vegetables, and help prevent contaminated and non-compliant food from entering the marketplace.

Preventive control plans

The SFCR introduce requirements for most food businesses to maintain a preventive control plan (PCP). A PCP is a written document that demonstrates how risks to food are identified and controlled.

Fresh fruits or vegetables businesses with gross annual food sales of more than $100,000 will be required to have a written PCP. This requirement also applies to businesses that grow or harvest fresh fruits or vegetables for interprovincial trade or export and that have gross annual food sales of more than $100,000. In addition, importers of fresh fruits or vegetables will need to ensure that their PCP addresses the preventive controls for growing and harvesting done by their foreign supplier.

If a business has implemented CanadaGAP or a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, it is well positioned to show compliance with PCP requirements relating to food safety. However, businesses should review their food safety systems to make sure that all of the PCP requirements, including those for grade and labelling, are addressed.

Traceability

The SFCR require food businesses to track the movement of food one step forward and one step back in the supply chain. These traceability requirements come into force on January 15, 2020, for businesses that grow or harvest fresh fruits or vegetables.

To meet the requirements, businesses will need to prepare and keep traceability documents and ensure that a label containing the required traceability information is applied, attached or accompanies the fresh fruits or vegetables when provided to another person or business.

The lot code labelling requirements for consumer prepackaged fresh fruits or vegetables will come into force on January 15, 2020. CFIA is currently updating its guidance for enforcing lot code labelling for the fresh fruits or vegetables sector. They play an important role in traceability, especially during food safety investigations or outbreaks.

Examples of lot codes include production date, best before date, establishment number or SFC licence number. Furthermore, for fresh fruits or vegetables, the lot code may also be the harvest date, grower identification number, growing region or any other code that may be used for traceability purposes.

More information

CFIA’s website offers an SFCR Toolkit for food businesses. It provides information on licensing, preventive controls and traceability, including a Fact Sheet for the fresh fruits or vegetables sector.

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