Understanding food safety laws
As a food business owner or manager, you need to be sure you comply with:
- Federal government food safety laws
- Newfoundland and Labrador provincial food safety laws
- Local municipal legislation
If you fail to comply with Newfoundland and Labrador food safety laws, 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 Drugs Act
- Safe Food for Canadians Act
Note: The Safe Food for Canadians Act consolidates the authorities of the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, which were repealed 15 January, 2019.
Provincial food safety laws are set by:
- Newfoundland and Labrador Food Premises Regulations under the Food Premises Act
These laws require that food sold in Newfoundland and Labrador is safe and suitable for human consumption and meets all standards.
Food safety in Newfoundland and Labrador is governed by Service NL.
Permits and licences
To operate a food business in Newfoundland and Labrador, food business operators must have a Food Establishment Licence.
Licences are issued by the Government Service Centre in the Department of Health and Community Services and they do not expire.
Food Handler Certification
Newfoundland and Labrador food safety legislation
Newfoundland and Labrador's Food Premises Regulations under the Food Premises Act requires food businesses to employ staff that have obtained Food Handler Certification.
To receive Food Handler Certification, Food Handlers are required to complete a Food Handler Certification course approved by the NL Department of Health and Community Services (HCS).
At a minimum, food business operators must have at least one employee on their premises during all hours of operation who has completed Food Handler Certification training.
Food Handler Certification is a legal requirement for many of your staff, but it's recommended to certify every staff member who handles food in your business.
Having your workforce complete a Food Handler Certification course helps ensure your business is never the cause of food poisoning.
The CIFS Food Handler Certification course is approved and accepted by the NL Department of Health and Community Services (HCS).
Food safety training certificates in Newfoundland and Labrador must be current and valid, in accordance with provincial laws. Food safety certificates require renewal 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
Provincial governments, municipalities and regional health authorities monitor food safety across Newfoundland and Labrador. Be prepared for Inspectors to visit your business before its opening and then every four to six months after.
Inspectors 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 Newfoundland and Labrador’s food safety training requirements, the consequences are severe.
For serious offences, your Food Establishment Licence may be suspended or revoked, closing your business immediately.
Each offence committed may result in fines totalling tens of thousands of dollars.
For serious breaches, employees, proprietors, managers and directors may be prosecuted.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, inspection results are available to the public.
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.