Friday, January 16, 2009

Food Safety Legislation: A Continuing Concern of the Canadian Government, Importers and Chinese Suppliers

(Mondaq – Cliff Sosnow and Elysia Van Zeyl)

Earlier in 2008, the Canadian government introduced legislation that would impose onerous requirements on companies that import consumer products from Chinese and other foreign suppliers. This legislation, referred to as the Consumer Products Safety Act, followed several recent high-profile recalls affecting toys, food, toothpaste and pharmaceuticals, many of which were imported from China. As a result of the proposed legislation, Chinese and other non-Canadian suppliers would have been faced with an increasing number of requests for detailed product information, including documentation of safety testing, from Canadian importers and distributors. Although the Consumer Products Safety Act, also referred to as Bill C-52, did not become law because of the recent Canadian election, the government's election platform indicates that protecting Canadians from unsafe imported products remains a high priority. Accordingly, the government is likely to re-introduce a bill in Parliament in the coming session.

Although it is unknown at this point whether the bill, when introduced, will be identical to or amended from what was originally put forward, prudence suggests that now may be a good opportunity for importers and their Chinese and other foreign suppliers that may be affected by the eventual legislation to consider how they may play a role in shaping the legal framework for such consumer product law. In the meantime, it may be wise for importers, manufacturers and suppliers and others potentially affected by the legislation to begin implementing compliance mechanisms so that when the legislation comes into effect, they will have established appropriate best practices and due diligence mechanisms to avoid any future liability. Read the complete article here.