The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA; french: Agence canadienne d'inspection des aliments) is a regulatory agency
that is dedicated to the safeguarding of food, plants, and animals (FPA) in Canada, thus enhancing the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy. The agency is governed by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
and Minister of Health
The agency was created in April 1997 by the ''Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act''
for the purpose of consolidating the delivery of all federal food safety
, animal health
, and plant health
regulatory programs in Canada. As such, the CFIA was established by combining and integrating the related inspection services of three separate federal government departments
* Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
* Fisheries and Oceans Canada
* Health Canada
Role and responsibilities
The agency is part of the larger federal public service
. According to the CFIA statement of values, science is the basis for regulatory decisions, though the need to consider other factors is recognized. Through the enforcement of various acts and regulations, the CFIA works to protect Canadians from preventable health risks and provide a fair and effective food, animal and plant regulatory regime that supports competitive domestic and international markets. A CFIA technocrat is appointed to be Canada's delegate on the FAO
committee that drafts the Codex Alimentarius
which is a vital component of the WTO
The CFIA is also responsible for monitoring pesticide residues in food. Health Canada establishes Maximum Residue Limits
(MRLs) for pesticide residues in all foods. MRLs are supposedly set for each pesticide-crop combination.
[PMRA: "Frequently Asked Questions on the Re-evaluation of Glyphosate"](_blank)
28 Apr 2017
The Minister of Health
is responsible for:
* establishing policies and standards for the safety
al quality of food sold in Canada;
* the administration
of those provisions of the Canadian ''Food and Drugs Act
'' that relate to public health, safety and nutrition; and
* for assessing the effectiveness of the Agency's activities related to food safety.
The Chief Veterinary Officer
(CVO) of Canada resides in the CFIA hierarchy: Doctor Jaspinder Komal
is also Vice President, Science at the CFIA. As delegate to the OIE, the CVO commits the nation to observe the standards created by the international body, which standards in turn serve the WTO
The Chief Food Safety Officer for Canada resides in the CFIA hierarchy: most recently, Lyzette Lamondin
was appointed to the role in 2017.
The Chief Plant Health Officer for Canada also resides in the CFIA hierarchy. The occupant of this position sits on the North American Plant Protection Organization
and the International Plant Protection Convention
, the latter of which informs the WTO
's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
. William Anderson PhD is appointed to this post.
The Chief Science Operating Officer, currently Primal Silva
, is responsible for the CFIA's 13 laboratories (one of which is Canada's contribution to the BSL4ZNet
: National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease
) and sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
as well as the Global Coalition of Regulatory Science Research
''Food and Drugs Act''
One of the main acts and regulations that CFIA uses is the ''Food and Drugs Act
''. There have been ongoing regulatory amendments brought forward with the most recent attempt at modernizing the ''Food and Drugs Act'' was the introduction of Bill C-51
Other Acts and Regulations also specify inspection requirements and for certain trade requirements, the need to register with CFIA to conduct business. Such companies are termed "registered establishments" as opposed to those "non-federally registered establishments" that fall solely under the ''Food and Drugs Act''. While the ''Food and Drugs Act'' provide for core food safety standards, many companies opt to use third-party standards such as HACCP
or ISO 22000
(which in any case incorporates HACCP
) in order to meet client specified standards. Due to the race to globalize and the push to standardize it is no wonder that the Global Food Safety Initiative
has been endorsed by the CFIA. All of these standards are closely observed by the food industry due to the potential loss of business. Here, the reader is encouraged to review the CFIA white paper ''Private Certification Policy (Food Safety)'',
which at some point between 2014 and 2020 replaced the ''Guide to Food Safety''.
The ''Food and Drugs Act'' does not have any requirements for domestic manufacturers to notify the agency of their existence but companies generally require provincial registrations or municipal licenses to operate. Provincial authorities and local public health units carry out inspections and work with the CFIA to manage food safety risks.
There is no requirement in the ''Food and Drugs Act'' for importers to directly notify the CFIA of their existence. Import notification is required for other commodities such as fish and meat. All commercial importers must have an import/export account with Canada Border Services Agency
(CBSA) who refers food, animal and plant imports to the CFIA as required. Through various phytosanitary
requirements, CBSA import controls often cause the CFIA to take notice.
Power to recall
The ''Food and Drugs Act'' does not provide the power to recall food products
and all recalls are done on a voluntary basis. However, Section 19 of the ''Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act'' provides authority for the Minister of Agriculture to order a recall, where there is reasonable grounds that the product poses a risk to public, animal or plant health. CFIA rates their recalls in three classifications (see below). Public notification of Class I and sometimes class II recalls is done by the CFIA. Lower risk recalls are listed in a published database on the CFIA web site. Recall classifications are conducted by the Office of Food Safety and Recall based on risk advice from Health Canada.
*Class I is a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
*Class II is a situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product may cause temporary adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
*Class III is a situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences.
Food Inspector corps
The CFIA Food Inspector Corps. is unionized by the Agriculture Union
, which in turn is an affiliate of PSAC
On 11 May 2020, the embedded inspector
s at slaughterhouses (as represented by the AU) said that CFIA management is "threatening disciplinary action against employees who refuse to be reassigned to work at COVID-19-infected meat plants", while the intrepid journalist was keen to note that Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland
had previously said that "those who feel unsafe won't be forced back to work."
The CFIA houses 13 practical research facilities, among which are at least three containment laboratories
, Fallowfield, Lethbridge
and the Winnipeg NCFAD:
Laboratory – Plant
– Food and animal health
– Food, animal health, and plant - Central Experimental Farm
– Food, animal health, and plant
*Greater Toronto Area
– Animal health/disease control - National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease
– Animal health - National Centre for Animal Diseases
– Food, plant and animal health
In July 2008, CFIA biologist Luc Pomerleau was fired for disloyalty to the government, because he transmitted to his union a sensitive Treasury Board
minutes document, in which President Vic Toews
and ministers approved the cuts proposed by Minister of Health Tony Clement
that were to affect the inspection of animal feed mills, the certification of commercial seed, eliminate mandatory label registration of meat and processed products, the Avian Influenza Preparedness Program, and also called for the consolidation of three "import service centres" into one central facility. Pomerleau is no longer able to work for the government because he was deemed "unreliable" and fired for "gross misconduct".
[canada.com: "Scientist fired for sharing secret memo"]
9 July 2008. Also se
August 2008 listeria outbreak
According to the findings of the Independent Investigator that was appointed by the government following the 2008 Listeriosis outbreak, there were 75 confirmed cases of listeriosis and was also the underlying or contributing cause of death for 22 of these individuals. Although most cases were in Ontario, illnesses occurred in seven provinces. The report identified response actions that worked well at the federal and provincial levels and gaps in the system should be corrected.
Canadian researcher Sylvain Charlebois published a separate report suggesting that the listeria outbreak forces the agency to accept that food recalls are no longer mainly externally oriented; they are systemic in nature.
2017 glyphosate residue tests
In April 2017, it was reported that nearly a third of food samples in CFIA testing contain glyphosate residues. Glyphosate residues were detected in 29.7% of all food samples, with 1.3% containing residue levels above MRLs. For the grain products tested, 3.9% had residue levels about MRLs. The research focused on:
[cbc.ca: "Nearly a third of food samples in CFIA testing contain glyphosate residues"]
*482 samples of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.
*2,497 samples of grains (barley, buckwheat, and quinoa), beverages, bean, pea, lentil, chickpea and soy products.
*209 retail samples of infant foods.
13 Apr 2017
* Canada Border Services Agency
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Category:1997 establishments in Canada
Category:Agriculture in Canada
Category:Federal departments and agencies of Canada
Category:Food and drink in Canada
Category:Food safety organizations
Category:Government agencies established in 1997