The announcement of McDonald’s Canada regarding the company's direction on chicken raised without the use of antibiotics of human importance is consistent with the overall direction of the Canadian chicken industry and plays a role in advancing Canada's ongoing, long-term Antimicrobial Use (AMU) Strategy.
Recent announcements, such as that by McDonald’s Canada, dovetail with the industry's initiatives around responsible use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
"Antimicrobial reduction continues to be a concern for farmers, consumers, and public health experts," said Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Dave Janzen. "While they are an important part of modern human and animal medicine, Chicken Farmers of Canada supports the responsible use of antimicrobials to maintain animal health, animal welfare, and food safety. Ultimately, the goal of the AMU strategy is to ensure the continued effectiveness of antibiotics while providing continued confidence to consumers."
As farming practices continue to evolve, chicken farmers play a leading role in researching antimicrobial alternatives, through supporting cutting-edge research and innovation. The industry-wide AMU strategy was developed in tandem with all industry stakeholders. This includes the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, the Canadian Hatchery Federation, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, Turkey Farmers of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians.
The biggest step in this strategy was eliminating the preventive use of Category I antibiotics - throughout the chicken sector. Category I antibiotics are those considered most important to human health, and as of May 15, 2014, their preventive use was no longer permitted in the Canadian chicken sector.
Eliminating the preventive use of Category I antibiotics is one part of the larger AMU strategy. Other major components of the strategy include analyzing antimicrobial resistance, reviewing best management practices, ensuring effective controls of AMU in Canada, educating stakeholders, as well as researching and sourcing alternative products.
To date, the poultry sector has invested over $3.2 million through the Canadian Poultry Research council and nearly half of this research has been in areas related to antimicrobial use and alternatives.