On July 1, 2014, amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations will come into force, extending livestock traceability requirements to domestic pigs farmed for food production[1].

The new regulations will allow for a formal agreement with a third-party administrator to create and sustain a database containing up-to-date information regarding the identification, movement and location of all pigs in Canada. The new amendments will be extended on July 1, 2015 to apply to farmed wild boars.

The traceability system is designed to improve food safety by minimizing the risk of a disease outbreak, and minimize the economic consequences of an outbreak of animal diseases through immediate access to complete and up-to-date information regarding pig identification, movement and location.

Because the traceability system will require reporting on the movement of the pigs between sites, it is anticipated that this extra information will allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to react more quickly in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

The new program will specify how and when pigs must be identified as well as how pig location and the movement of pigs must be reported. The administrator of the new program will issue identification numbers for pigs and will manage an information database. To minimize the impact on small producers, there will be circumstances in which pigs may be moved without requiring individual identification for each pig. However, pigs being transported directly for slaughter will need to be identified with an approved tag or a slap tattoo indicating a site number instead of a number unique for the particular pig.

Livestock traceability systems have been a focus for both the federal Ministry of Agriculture as well as the provincial and territorial ministries since 2009, and national traceability systems have already been implemented for cattle, bison and sheep.

Although a voluntary pig traceability system has been in place for nearly five years through the Canadian Pork Council, regulators concluded that based on experiences in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France with both swine fever outbreak and foot-and-mouth disease, the voluntary system is inadequate to protect Canada swine population.

As well, a voluntary program would not have full participation of the swine industry, then raising the risk of an untraceable animal disease outbreak. The Canadian Pork Council has indicated its support for the amendments to the regulations.

The new regulations address both the import as well as the export of pigs. Importers of pigs will be subject to reporting requirements and imported pigs will require an approved tag (or an acceptable equivalent tag from a foreign country) applied either before importation or as soon as the pig reaches its final destination. Exporters of pigs will also have reporting requirements and pigs will have to be identified in the manner required by the importing country.

Although some provinces already have provincial pig traceability systems in place, the new national system is intended to harmonize and consolidate this information across Canadian jurisdictions.

1Regulations Amending the Health of Animals Regulations, SOR/2014-23, Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 148, No. 5

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