Food Safety in Canada

Rules and Regulations

Food Safety in Canada

The major objective of any producer, retailer, or restaurant is to offer food that is healthy and safe to eat. To this, there are rules and regulations to ensure that food is properly stored away from contaminants and in sanitary facilities.

A number of acts and regulations are administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure that all products are safe for consumption. The list of acts includes the Meat Inspection Act, Health of Animals Act, Food and Drugs Act, Fish Inspection Act, and many others. There are regulations regarding poultry and livestock, eggs, vegetables and fresh fruit, dairy products, and so on. Rules and regulations are also in place for organic products, processed foods, seeds, etc. Certain diseases are designated as reportable diseases, for example, bovine tuberculosis, African swine fever, African horse sickness, classical swine fever.

Processing facilities in plants should be equipped with waste disposal facilities, including sewage and drainage systems. All surfaces on which food is processed should be non-toxic and non-corrosive. There are rules for safe handling, storage, shipping, and transportation as well. All food products should meet safety standards and specifications. Documents and procedures to confirm this include labels for ingredients and allergens, certificates of analysis, visual inspections, and others. Food products should be transported, shipped, and handled in such a way as to prevent deterioration, damage and contamination. Factors such as light, humidity, temperature, and bacterial growth should be taken into account to ensure that food is safe to consume.

Choosing Local Fresh Food

While rules and regulations are in place for producers, retailers, and other establishments, there is a wealth of products on the market, and it is important that consumers make healthy food choices. It is always best to choose locally produced, seasonal food and organic products. It is best to consume unprocessed natural foods such as grass fed meats, beans, raw seeds and nuts, organic fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, and wild seafood. The same goes for frozen vegetables and fruits which have more vitamins and minerals than canned products and processed foods. Seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables, however, are best as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fibers, and other nutrients.

Healthy food choices include whole grain products such as brown rice, wheat berries, buckwheat, and quinoa. Avoid products that are low in fiber, including cereals, white bread, and white rice. Wild fish and grass fed dairy and meat are more expensive but taste better. They are free of harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Grass fed meat is healthier than commercially-produced meat and helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. It contains essential nutrients and acids such as conjugated linoleic acid which helps prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Grass fed meat also contains healthy fats such as omega 3 and has fewer calories. Organic dairy products are also free of chemicals, pesticides, and other contaminants, which makes them a healthier choice.

Read the label carefully and check for dyes, additives, and preservatives. Many processed and prepackaged foods contain preservatives and additives to increase their shelf life. It is also better to avoid products that are high in sodium and sugar. Consuming foods that are high in sodium, for example, is associated with kidney problems, stroke, heart problems, and hypertension.

Types of Food Businesses

There are different types of food businesses that require little investment and can be profitable at the same time. Whether opening a cake shop, buffet restaurant, or bakery, however, it pays to learn more about regulations and permits, different types of food businesses, financing, and other details.

You can choose from different options, for example, a dessert shop, cookie gift business, coffee shop, catering service, frozen yogurt store, baby food production, etc. If you choose to open a frozen yogurt store, the most important thing is to choose value added products that are tasty and healthy. Frozen yogurt stores feature a selection of flavors such as raspberry, kiwi, chocolate fudge brownie, cheesecake, and dark chocolate. Another option is to start a food truck business and sell prepackaged and frozen meals such as snacks, sweets, and ice cream. The best part is that you can move to areas with high foot traffic such as community centers, parks, universities, office buildings, and shopping venues. Other types of food businesses include juice or fruit bar, online grocery store, food kiosk, cookie baking, etc.

Permits and Licenses

The types of permits and licenses required depend on your location and the type of food business you plan to start. In British Columbia, for example, you need to obtain a Health Operating Permit regardless of the type of food business (here).

Food Business Plan

A good food business plan is a way to secure affordable, low-cost financing. In your business plan, you may want to include sections that cover your financial projections, marketing and sales, market analysis, organization and management, etc. You may want to include a list of food equipment and appliances such as slicers, food preparation counters, refrigerators and fridges, utensils, ovens, food processors, and so on.

Financing for Your Food Business

The main sources include private unsecured and secured loans, business credit cards, and funding under the Canada Small Business Financing Program. Funding under the program is one way to secure a low-cost loan of up to $500,000 for leasehold improvements, production equipment, restaurant or food truck equipment, (here). The interest rate varies from one financial establishment to another and can be variable or fixed. A loan from your local bank or a major bank is a second option to look into. Business loans are offered by big financial institutions such as TD Canada Trust and RBC and go with flexible payment options and floating and fixed rates. Many banks offer secured loans with longer repayment periods and affordable rates (here). Businesses are asked to offer collateral, which can be a major business asset, land, margin or liquid security, or residential or business real estate. The repayment schedule depends on factors such as the asset and its useful life. Some banks have set-up and other fees, which add to the cost of the loan. At the same time, there are financial institutions that allow principal prepayments on an annual basis to pay off the loan earlier and save on interest charges. A business credit card is also an option to look into and pay day-to-day expenses (here). There is a host of benefits for cardholders, among which assistance with bookkeeping, ease of use, convenience, and ad-ons such as cash back, shopping discounts, travel and hotel discounts, concierge, and a lot more.