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| Austin Alonzo
on August 8, 2016

Canada amends ‘raised without antibiotics’ definition

Canada is now allowing the use of certain chemical coccidiostats in products labeled as raised without the use of antibiotics.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency altered its standards for using the “Raised without the use of antibiotics” label on food products to move more in line with United States standards.

On August 5, the Canadian government agency released a communication explaining the change of its criteria for raising natural, naturally raised, feed, antibiotics and hormone claims in labelling or advertising for meat, poultry and fish products.

The move allows poultry, along with meat and fish, given chemical coccidiostats to display the label claim “raised without the use of antibiotics.”

In a newsletter to its members, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council (CPEPC) said chemical coccidiostats include Deccox, Clinacox, Zoamix, Stenerol, Nicarb and Robenz. Ionophores, like Monteban, Maxiban, Bio-Cox, Coxistac, will continue to not be allowed as part of the antibiotics claim.

In an email, CPEPC Technical Director Eric Charlton said ionophores are still prohibited because they have antibiotic qualities and the CIFA considers them to be similar enough to antibiotics to exclude them from antibiotic-free production. 

The CPEPC said the change brings the Canadian definition closer to the U.S. definition of raised without antibiotics. The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the U.S. regulatory body for meat and poultry labeling, does not allow the use of ionophores in poultry labeled as "raised without antibiotics," either.

The change, the CPEPC said, effectively allows access to the same products being used to produce raised without antibiotics products in the United States. A full guide to Canadian production claims for meat, poultry and fish products can be found at the CFIA’s website.

In an email, Mike Terpstra, manager of the CPEPC's chicken sector, said Canada is a net importer of chicken. In 2015, the country exported 133 million kilograms of chicken and imported 214 million kg.

Approximately 52% of exports were to the US and more than 80% of Canadian imports come from the US, Terpstra said.

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