Canadians want to know where their food comes from, how it’s raised, and what goes into it. For some, that curiosity extends to the question of medicine use on the farm, or antibiotics (which are also called antimicrobials).
Why do we use them?
Antibiotics play an important role in ensuring the health and welfare of poultry, as well as to ensure a safe product for consumers. All antibiotics have been evaluated and approved by the Veterinary Drugs Directorate of Health Canada and oversight by veterinarians and industry stakeholders ensures responsible use.
What are we doing to use less?
Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) supports the responsible use of antibiotics in both animal and human medicine. To ensure responsible usage, and to preserve effective treatment options, the industry is monitoring and reducing its antibiotic use. In addition, a focus has been placed on researching alternative products that will provide even greater possibilities for future reductions. All of these initiatives are been achieved through CFC’s Antimicrobial Use (AMU) Strategy.
As an example of CFC’s commitment to antibiotic reduction and responsible use, the industry implemented a policy in May 2014 to eliminate the preventive use of Category I antibiotics (Category I antibiotics are defined as those of critical importance to humans). In May 2017 CFC revised its AMU strategy and is now working to eliminate the preventative use of Category II antibiotics by the end of 2018 and has set a goal to eliminate Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020. CFC also participates in antibiotic use monitoring through the federal government’s surveillance program: the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance, or CIPARS. This surveillance system will help industry and government determine future reduction strategies.
What have you invested?
Canada’s chicken farmers and the rest of the poultry industry have invested over $1.4 million in antibiotic alternatives research over the past few years, which has been leveraged to over $5.1 million. Research areas that received this funding included the study of antibiotics and their impact, the search for possible replacement treatments and much more; this funding represents nearly half of all research funding from the poultry industry.
This is just an overview of the proactive measures being taken by the chicken industry to date; to learn more about how Canada’s chicken farmers are addressing antibiotic use in animal agriculture, visit letstalkchicken.ca or chickenfarmers.ca.