News Feature | July 11, 2014

Implementation Of Canada Pig Traceability System — Education To Enforcement

By Melissa Lind, contributing writer

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s mandatory pig traceability system went into effect on July 1, but the agency says it plans to give producers a year before getting tough on enforcement

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) plans for a “soft” scale-up to full implementation of PigTrace Canada, has begun with education and information letters sent to those pig producers who are unable to provide proper documentation of animal identification and tracking.  The initial focus will also have regional implementation, starting in Ontario.

As Food Online reported back in April, the new traceability standards require all pig processors, including farmers, transporters, and auction houses, to keep records of identification and movement of all pigs in Canada.  This includes all events from birth or import to slaughter or export but doesn’t include sows or boars used only for breeding as the standards are focused on food production. The program is administered through the Canadian Pork Council, but infractions are enforced by the CFIA.  The PigTrace Canada system allows for only two types of animal identification — a unique ID for each pig applied as an ear tag or a “herd mark” for all pigs originating from one facility that can be applied as an ear tag or a tattoo. The herd mark tattoo is applied to the shoulder for animals intended for slaughter or applied as an ear tattoo for weanling and feeder animals to be exported.

Food Traceability: Solving The Imperative Of Compliance

Full enforcement of the program will be scaled-up over the next year and some older identification methods may be accepted until Oct 31, but may depend on individual customs officials. A memo has been circulated to veterinarians other officials regarding requirements and implementation.  The UDA has not voiced any objections to the phase-in time frame. Jeff Clark, program manager of PigTrace Canada says that implementing traceability standards gives a “certain amount of security and safeguards to our industry.” Clark furthers this by adding, “The quicker we can get whatever disease or food safety issue out of the landscape, the quicker we can get back to making money.”

The CFIA program was developed following the fast-moving Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), infecting at least 27 farms in Canada and spread to 30 U.S. states. This has resulted in the premature death of millions of pigs. This crisis let to devastation of the U.S. and Canadian pork market and increased pork prices.  Over 30 percent of pig samples tested by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) have shown positive results for PEDV.  The food industry is watching the Canadian system with interest as a similar national pork traceability system has not yet been developed in the U.S.