Canada’s chicken farmers continue to evolve their production practices in response to consumer preferences, and they’re clear: Canadians want to know where their food comes from, how it’s raised, and what goes into it. Part of the curiosity surrounding what goes into one’s food is the question of medicine usage on the farm, or antibiotics, which can also be referred to as antimicrobials.
Chicken Farmers of Canada developed an AMU strategy in conjunction with all of its industry stakeholders and with support from the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, the Canadian Hatchery Federation, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, Turkey Farmers of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians.
The strategy is built on the foundations for reduction, surveillance, stewardship and research and innovation. Key elements of the AMU strategy include:
- defining antimicrobial use and analyzing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) trends
- reviewing best management practices
- ensuring effective controls of AMU in Canada
- educating stakeholders on the issues of AMU and AMR
- researching and determining the availability of alternative products
The biggest step in this strategy to date was the elimination of Category I antibiotics throughout the chicken sector. Category I antibiotics are those considered most important to human health, and as of May 15, 2014, their preventive use was no longer permitted in the Canadian chicken sector.
In May 2017, Chicken Farmers of Canada announced that the chicken sector would be eliminating the preventative use of Category II antibiotics by the end of 2018 and that a goal had been set to eliminate the preventive use of Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020.
The revised strategy will continue to incorporate surveillance, education and research as key tools in the implementation of Chicken Farmers of Canada’s AMU strategy.
This reduction strategy is a significant step for the industry and we will continue to work with government and stakeholders to ensure responsible use and address this important issue.
The objectives and approach of Chicken Farmers of Canada’s strategy works in collaboration with the Canadian government’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use.
As always, consumers can be assured that Canadian chicken is free of antibiotic residues. Canada has strict regulations with respect to antibiotic use and withdrawal times to ensure that chicken reaching the marketplace does not contain residues, which is monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.