by SUSAN MANN
Canadian pork producers will have revised food safety, biosecurity and animal care programs placed under one banner called Canadian Pork Excellence by next year, and participation in them will be mainly voluntary.
Developed by the Canadian Pork Council, the Canadian Pork Excellence program will be tested on farms across Canada this fall, including on eight to 10 farms in Ontario. After the on-farm testing is done, the programs will be reviewed and revised. Implementation on all farms starts in 2017 through provincial pork organizations, and validations start in 2018.
Audrey Cameron, pork council food safety and animal care programs manager, says all producers shipping to federally registered plants will have to be on the Canadian Pork Excellence program. Other farmers can decide to be part of the program if their customers want it and they want to work with those customers.
Ontario Pork board director Teresa Van Raay, who represents Ontario on the pork council, says “we’re totally rewriting the program so that it’s more efficient to use on-farm and easier for us (farmers) to be accountable to our consumer.”
The program also makes it easier for farmers “so there’s not different programs by different packers,” Van Raay says. The packers “are in total support of making this program workable for our producers.”
The revised food safety portion of Canadian Pork Excellence will still have “the really good qualities of the Canadian Quality Assurance (CQA) program,” Van Raay says.
The CQA pork food safety program has been in place since 1998 and has been regularly updated, according to a pork council press release. It has requirements and good production practices based on the internationally recognized HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) model.
Cameron says the content of the food safety portion of Canadian Pork Excellence, called Pig Safe, will stay the same as the CQA program “because we cannot change the food safety requirements. But we are building on them. We are looking at making them easier to operate on farms.”
The CQA program has the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s approval for its technical aspects. Cameron says the council will be seeking CFIA approval for the technical aspects of Pig Safe.
“We will be working with CFIA this summer and fall to ensure we meet all their requirements for the recognition,” she says.
The new animal care program within Canadian Pork Excellence, called Pig Care, will include recommendations from the most recent Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, released in 2014. The code “takes into account the best science available along with practical requirements for the care and handling of pigs,” the release says.
The current animal care program, called Animal Care Assessment program, was launched in 2005, the release says. It does not include the 2014 code recommendations.
Cameron says “Canadian Pork Excellence can be seen as three different sections. There would be the food safety program, the animal care program and we are going to be bringing on biosecurity because biosecurity exists on farms but it was not integrated under the same platform. Now we’re just bringing them all together under the same Canadian Pork Excellence.”
Biosecurity recommendations are being included in the Pig Safe (food safety) section of Canadian Pork Excellence.
Van Raay says similar to the existing food safety/animal care programs, what farmers will be doing under Canadian Pork Excellence is writing down what they’re doing on their farms, keeping those records to be able to demonstrate their procedures, and being accountable.
The audit cycle under Canadian Pork Excellence will stay the same as the current food safety/animal care programs. Van Raay says there is a full validation on farms every three years and partial validations during the other years of the three-year cycle.
Many of the validators are veterinarians and they’re being trained, though the Canadian Pork Council, so the interpretations of the programs’ requirements are standardized across Canada, she notes. BF