Canada has one of the safest poultry value chains in the world. World-class on-farm food safety programs, strategies that maintain flock health, pathogen detection methods and food handling procedures all contribute to the production of safe, high-quality poultry products. Maintaining this level of safety and quality throughout the poultry value chain, as it extends from the parent flock through production and processing to the consumer, presents ever-changing challenges for which the sector must always be ready. Innovation is required to meet new challenges; research is the driver of that innovation.
The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) includes food safety among its priority research areas. The program also includes a number of related disciplines, including poultry health and welfare. CPRC’s 2011 Call for Letters of Intent is asking the research community for proposals designed to build on past and ongoing work relating to “Food Safety and Quality – Impact of Poultry Health and Disease” and “Poultry Welfare and Behaviour.” The Call includes a range of current and emerging issues, identified by CPRC’s member organizations.
Food Safety and Poultry Health
As CPRC members know, the health of our national flocks is intimately connected to the quality of our products. A healthy national poultry flock is vital to the life of the industry and to ensure that Canadians are provided with safe, quality products. Disease-causing organisms are always present and constantly evolving, which represents an ongoing threat to poultry production. Assuring the future health of our national flocks will depend on innovations in poultry medicine and production practices.
Everyone agrees: strategies to promote flock health must not have a negative impact on human health. The decision to use antibiotics in poultry farming is not taken lightly and is constantly being assessed. The Canadian poultry industry supports the responsible use of veterinary health products that have been approved by the Veterinary Drugs Directorate of Health Canada in order to ensure food safety, animal health and animal welfare.
Consumers’ trust in the food they eat is integral to the success of our industry. As a result, antimicrobial use and resistance has been a critical priority for the poultry sector for many years. To date, over $5 million has been spent on this aspect of poultry research and it will continue to be a high priority going forward. Research into innovations that will provide the poultry sector with an array of alternative methods by which to combat disease and optimize flock performance is also a key priority. Enhanced vaccines, bacteriophage, pre- and probiotics, diet manipulation and immunomodulators, are all being assessed as potential complements to the avian immune system. The effects of these tools on microbial populations in the gut and on avian immune function are also being studied to ensure their safe and effective use.
Welfare and Behaviour
To ensure that the Canadian poultry sector is at the forefront of poultry welfare, ongoing research and innovation is required. A comprehensive poultry welfare program requires expertise not only in behaviour, but also in animal health, genetics, nutrition and management. This research must be based on sound science and examine all of the production factors that affect a bird’s well-being. Research on production systems (such as housing, lighting, feed and water delivery) should be performed with the effect of genetics in mind. That is, the birds must be compatible with the production system in which they are placed. Poultry welfare must continue to be considered throughout the entire value chain, while taking into account the uniqueness of Canadian climatic conditions and geography.
Canadians expect and deserve a safe food system; an integrated approach to research that addresses issues throughout the value chain will ensure that they continue to enjoy one of the best.
For more details on any CPRC activities, please contact Gord Speksnijder at The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 483 Arkell Road, R.R. #2, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6H8, phone: 289-251-2990, fax: 519-837-3584, e-mail: email@example.com, or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca .
The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, the Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.