The Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) Responsible AMU Strategy was launched in 2012 to demonstrate responsible antimicrobial use in the Canadian chicken sector. A part of this strategy focused on eliminating the preventive use of antibiotics of importance to human medicine. The Canadian chicken industry successfully eliminated the preventive use of Category I antibiotics in May 2014 and Category II antibiotics in 2018.
The Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) monitors trends in antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in selected bacterial organisms from human, animal, and food sources across Canada.
The recently published 2019 CIPARS report on antimicrobial use and resistance from surveillance activities on chicken farms sheds some positive light on the effects of the Category I and II preventive use eliminations. The report derived data from 147 chicken farms that were surveyed by 17 veterinarians in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec.
Key findings from the report included:
- Over 60% of antimicrobials reported used in 2019 were not medically important for human medicine
- Over 98% of surveyed flocks were not administered any antimicrobials at the hatchery
- No flocks were administered any Category I antimicrobials
- The use of Category II antimicrobials dropped significantly – indicating the successful implementation of CFC’s Category II policy
- Bacitracin continued to be an important antimicrobial used for disease prevention
- PHAC results show a decrease in bacterial resistance across most antimicrobials in response to the CFC Category I and II policy changes; CIPARS has also previously reported on the success of the Category I policy in previous reports and bulletins
These positive surveillance results help to demonstrate the sectors’ strong commitment to responsible use and allow the sector to communicate the success of industry’s policies. Maintaining these positive results takes a team effort – from all stakeholders in the chicken supply chain.
Antimicrobials are, and will remain, essential tools to protect the health and welfare of the birds and to ensure a safe food supply. CFC’s policies operate in concert with federal government policies on antimicrobial use and resistance to be able to provide confidence to consumers. These policies include:
- All antimicrobials used in agriculture are approved for use and safety by Health Canada
- All antibiotics of human importance are used in conjunction with a veterinary prescription
- All growth promotion claims have been removed from antimicrobials of importance to human medicine
- Health Canada requires pharmaceutical companies to report annual sales