Proposal for a Fish Food Safety Regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001
Regulation - LGIC
Bill or Act:
Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001
Summary of Decision:
The proposal has been approved with some modifications.
The proposal was amended to focus the scope of the regulation on the areas of highest risk. In the original proposal, fish processing plants performing only lower-risk processes and distributing a significant amount of fish would be subject to parts of the regulation and would require "registration". Higher-risk fish processing plants would require licensing and have additional requirements (e.g. written programs, recall procedures, etc.).
Recent changes to the Food Premises Regulation, O. Reg. 493/17 made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act include new food safety requirements for all food premises, including fish processing plants. The regulation came into force July 1, 2018 and will effectively address the food safety risk associated with the lower-risk fish processing that were proposed to be registered and regulated under OMAFRA's fish regulation.
Due to these changes and to reduce inspection duplication, the proposal was adjusted and the scope of the proposed regulation was refined. OMAFRA will regulate fish processing plant operators undertaking higher-risk fish processing or packaging activities and distributing those products to persons other than consumers. In addition, fish processing plants that are also meat processing plants and distributing fish products to persons other than consumers will also require a license.
The licensing provisions for the new regulation will become effective January 1, 2020 and the remainder of the regulation will become effective January 1, 2021.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
The ministry anticipates administrative costs to business in the implementation and monitoring of food safety programs required under the new regulation, learning about the regulation and the time required to communicate to the ministry about changes to the business, etc. The total estimated administrative cost is $330,500 annually for the approximately 50 fish processors remaining under the inspection of OMAFRA.
The new regulation is expected to reduce costs for those fish processors who do not do higher risk activities and will be under the authority of public health units and the Ministry of Health. For those approximately 50 processors, there would be an estimated savings of 4.5 hours annually per processor, resulting in a total average annual savings of $7,800 for those businesses.
July 4, 2016
Summary of Proposal:
The Ministry is asking for feedback on a proposal to replace Ontario's current Fish Inspection Act and Ontario Regulation 456 - Quality Control with a new regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.
To clearly set out who the regulation applies to, it is proposed that only businesses processing fish and fish products (where fish products would be defined as a food product containing more than 25 per cent fish by weight), as well as businesses selling other than directly to consumers, would be subject to the provincial fish regulation. Businesses falling outside the scope of the proposed regulation would be under the sole jurisdiction of local public health units.
Proposed changes for fish processors would enhance food safety requirements and strengthen consumer confidence in Ontario's non-federally registered fish processors distributing within the province. Requirements for fish processors should align with the risk associated with the different processing activities and with the volume of products being distributed.
Under the proposal, if a processor conducts only lower-risk activities - like eviscerating, cleaning, filleting and cutting fish - and distributes more than 25,000 kg of those products annually to another business, then the processor would require registration with the ministry. The proposed requirements for these fish processors would build on the foundation established in the current regulation and could include a requirement for registration, additional good manufacturing practices and plant design improvements. Requirements would be outcome-based to allow processors to address food safety risks in a more flexible way.
The ministry is proposing greater oversight of businesses that distribute products derived from higher-risk activities - canning, fermenting, pickling, smoking, and any other secondary process resulting in a ready-to-eat fish product. . "Ready-to-eat" means the product is edible without additional preparation to achieve food safety, e.g., sushi.
It is proposed that businesses conducting higher-risk activities and distributing products to other businesses would require a licence from the ministry to operate. The licensing requirement would be in addition to registering their business with OMAFRA, and could include requirements for written programs (e.g., sanitation, maintenance and pest control), establishing process controls for higher risk processing (e.g., time and temperature requirements and record keeping) and developing recall procedures. A fee would likely be charged to cover the administrative costs of licensing.
To view a more detailed discussion paper that describes the content of the proposed regulations, please see the link below under "Further Information".
Policy Advisor, Legislative Policy Unit
Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch
1 Stone Road West, 2nd Floor, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 4Y2
January 1, 2020