Quebec Food Safety Laws and Requirements

Learn the food safety laws restaurants and other food businesses and organizations in Quebec are required to follow.

Understanding food safety laws

Quebec Food Safety Laws and Requirements

As a food business owner or manager, you need to be sure you comply with:

  • Federal government food safety laws
  • Quebec 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

Federal 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 laws

Provincial food safety laws are set by Quebec’s Food Regulations under the Food Product Act.
 
These laws require that food sold in Quebec is safe and suitable for human consumption and meets all standards set out in the Food Product Act. 

Food Safety in Quebec is governed by The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).

Permits and licences

Most food businesses require either a Restoration or Retail Permit. This can be obtained through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.


Food Handler Certification

Quebec food safety legislation 

Quebec’s Food Regulation (sections 1.3.1.2.1 and 2.2.4) requires food businesses to employ staff that have obtained Food Handler, Food Establishment Manager and tailored training. 

At a minimum, Quebec food businesses must comply with the following legislation:  

  • The operator of a food business is required to have Food Establishment Manager training before applying for a business licence. 
  • One employee or 10% of the operator's workforce is required to have Food Handler training. 
  • The operator is required to have a record of training certificates for all current employees and past employees who have worked in the last 12-months.

Certification  

The CIFS Food Handler Certification Course is currently pending recognition by the Quebec Government. 

Renewals  

Food Handler Certification requires renewal every five years.

Avoid fines

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 Quebec. 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.

Quebec Food Safety Laws and Requirements

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 your business fails to meet Quebec’s food safety requirements, the consequences are severe. 

Cancelled licence

For serious offences, your licence may be suspended or revoked, closing your business immediately. 

Significant fines

Each offence committed may result in fines totalling tens of thousands of dollars. 

Prosecution

For serious breaches, employees, proprietors, managers and directors may be prosecuted.

Public record

In Quebec, inspection results are available online for the public to review and share.  

Inventory confiscation

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.