Understanding food safety laws
As a food business owner or manager, you need to be sure you comply with:
- Federal government food safety laws
- Manitoba provincial food safety laws
- Local municipal legislation
If you don’t comply you risk being fined, prosecuted or even having your business closed.
Federal and provincial laws
Health Canada is responsible for establishing policies and setting food safety standards for food businesses.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for enforcing these policies and standards.
The following are federal acts and regulations related to food safety in Canada:
- Food and Drug Act
- Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act
- Canada Agricultural Products Act
- Safe Food for Canadians Act
Provincial food safety laws are set by:
- Manitoba's Food and Food Handling Establishments Regulations under the Public Health Act
- City of Winnipeg Food Safety Establishment By-Laws
These laws require that food sold in Manitoba is safe and suitable for human consumption and meets all standards set out in the Food Handling Regulations.
Provincial food safety laws are governed by:
- Manitoba Public Health
- Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Permits and licences
Most food businesses in Manitoba require a permit to operate. These permits expire on the 31st of March every year.
Food Handler Certification
Manitoba food safety legislation
Food Businesses in Manitoba are required to follow the food safety standards in the Manitoba Food and Food Handling Establishments Regulation, under the Public Health Act.
Winnipeg food safety legislation
In addition to provincial laws, the city of Winnipeg has additional food safety training requirements.
Winnipeg’s Food Safety By-Law (Number 5160/89, Sections 5.6, 5.7, 5.8) requires food businesses to employ staff that have obtained Food Handler Certification.
To receive Food Handler Certification, Food Handlers are required to complete an approved food safety training course.
At a minimum, Winnipeg food businesses must comply with the following legislation:
- To operate a food business, the person in charge must successfully complete an approved Food Handler Certification training program.
- When there are more than five employees on duty at one time, one person in charge who has Food Handler Certification must be present during all operating hours.
- The on-duty person in charge shall post their Food Handler Certificate in a prominent place in the food service establishment.
The CIFS Food Handler Certification course is approved by the Manitoba Government.
Food Handler Certification renewal is recommended every five years.
Businesses that do not meet the minimum requirements open themselves to fines.
If your Certified Food Handler unexpectedly resigns or is not present during an inspection, Inspectors may penalize your business.
Food safety inspections
Federal and provincial governments monitor food safety across Manitoba. Be prepared for Inspectors to visit your business before its opening and then every four to six months after.
Inspectors will request to see Food Handler Certificates and your Food Safety Plan.
They also have the authority to:
- enter your business at any time without notice
- examine any area and equipment in your business
- take samples of food or food contaminants
- issue warning notices and fines
- close your business immediately
What happens if I don’t comply?
If a food business fails to meet Manitoba’s food safety requirements, the consequences are severe.
Each offence committed may result in fines totalling tens of thousands of dollars.
For serious breaches, employees, proprietors, managers and directors may be prosecuted.
For serious offences, your Food Handling Establishment permit may be suspended or revoked, closing your business immediately.
Information about convictions and closures are available to the public on the Manitoba provincial website.
When public health is at risk, your business may have food seized and destroyed.
Brand and reputation damage
Your business may struggle to recover its reputation if the media reports a food safety incident.