What is Spent Fowl?
Spent fowl are laying hens at the end of their production cycle: a by-product of egg and hatching egg production. While broiler chickens are raised specifically for meat consumption, spent fowl hens lay eggs and when their productivity declines, they are processed for their meat. Chicken coming into Canada is subject to import controls, and spent fowl is not—there is no limit on how much can be imported.
Why Does it Matter to Us?
Chicken meat is fraudulently being imported and declared as spent fowl in order to bypass import controls, while taking away jobs and revenue from Canada’s chicken farmers and processors. In 2015, Canada imported 91% of the United States’ entire spent fowl breast meat production, which is highly improbable and speaks directly to the likelihood of fraud.
Spent fowl imports continue to have a major impact on the Canadian chicken sector. Following a slight decline during the previous two years, spent fowl imports have returned to the high level they were at in 2012.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada data, 103.1 Mkg (million kilograms) of spent fowl products were imported into Canada in 2015, 20.7 Mkg (25%) more than in 2014 and exceeding the amount of chicken imported under the TRQ (tariff rate quota) by 24.9 Mkg. The amount of imported spent fowl alone represents 9% of Canada’s chicken production.
Recognizing the impact of this worrisome trend, the former Canadian government included a pledge to implement a mandatory certification requirement on spent fowl imports as part of its October 5, 2015 announcement on the conclusion of the TPP negotiations. A governmental inter-department working group involving the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canadian Border Services Agency, Global Affairs Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been formed to move this pledge forward, and we believe that the DNA test that has been developed to differentiate between the two meats is an essential component of this new import certification process, to ensure the actual products are also verified.
There is no specific consumer labelling requirement for the sale of spent fowl. Even though it is imported as spent fowl, it can be sold labelled as broiler chicken. This is misleading to consumers who expect to buy Canadian chicken and is a potential danger to those who suffer from egg allergies.
We have the following priorities when it comes to spent fowl:
- A Canadian mandatory certification mechanism on all imports of spent fowl
- Implementation of DNA tests to distinguish spent fowl from broiler meat
- Monitoring and analysis of spent fowl imports and exports
- Canadian regulations requiring distinct labeling for products containing spent fowl
For more information on Spent Fowl and our Industry, check out these pages on our website: