LETTER: Alberta’s eggs and poultry are free of antibiotic residues

Alberta Chicken Producers respond to online “Contagion” article

Dear Editor,

On behalf of Alberta’s 250 chicken farmers, it is deeply disturbing to read the erroneous and misleading statements in the “Contagion” article (published June 30 on www.ponokanews.com).

First and foremost, consumers can be assured that poultry and eggs are free of antibiotic residues.

Testing has revealed no significant residue levels in over a decade. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is involved in monitoring for antimicrobial residues and for monitoring antimicrobial use and withdrawal periods by way of the CFIA veterinarians at federal processing plants.

Federal regulations (i.e. CFIA Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures, Chapter 19, section 3.4.2) require poultry farmers to report all antibiotics that have been used for each flock prior to the birds being processed. CFIA veterinarians verify these reports to determine that antibiotics were used as per their label or with a veterinary prescription and that the antibiotics are being used at the appropriate dosage. Any product failing this investigation is not allowed on the market.

Antibiotics are used to protect the health of the birds. We also wish to point out that there are no hormones or steroids used in chicken production in Canada…in fact, they have been illegal for use in poultry production in Canada for over 50 years.

Antibiotic use and resistance is a critical priority for the chicken industry in Canada.

Canadian chicken farmers are reducing the use of antibiotics most important to human health. In 2014 Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) implemented a policy that eliminated the preventive use of Category I antibiotics — those most important to human medicine. The preventative use of Category II antibiotics will be eliminated by the end of 2018 and the goal is to eliminate the preventive use of Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020.

All antibiotics used are approved by Health Canada.

CFC has banned the use of antibiotics obtained through the Own-Use Importation (OUI) provision and the use of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API).

CFC’s On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program has requirements for antibiotic use; this program is audited annually and is mandatory in each Canadian province. Chicken farmers also submit a flock sheet to processors and CFIA veterinarians for each flock processed, detailing the antibiotics that were used.

Please view these short videos on our website for more fact-based information about antibiotic use: https://www.chicken.ab.ca/on-the-farm/#antibiotics

Sincerely,

Karen Kirkwood, executive director

Alberta Chicken Producers – representing Alberta’s 250 registered chicken farmers

Editor’s note: This letter was in response to an article on www.ponokanews.com called “Contagion” but did not appear in the hard copy edition of Ponoka News.

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