Producers embrace effort to putAlberta at the front of pork traceability

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Anational pork traceability strategy is on the way, but Alberta has started its program early, making it the first province in Canada to have a mandatory system. The system was voluntary in 2011, but became law effective Jan. 1, 2012.

“We do have the processes in place for a national traceability program,” said Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork. “It’s a little difficult when you have to work from a federal perspective.”

Alberta Pork began rolling out the program in the fall of 2010. It requires producers to fill out manifests when they take hogs to a processing facility, and the processor then sends a copy to Livestock Identification Services (LIS).

“We end up having that information stored with LIS and they become the repository for that information,” said Fitzgerald. “If there’s a problem, and CFIA or the provincial vet had to see information, it would all be held there.”

The process is running smoothly, and during the voluntary stage, producers were quick to embrace it and provide tracking information, said Fitzgerald.

“Having the information and the manifest is sort of like having a sales receipt,” he said. “It does give you a receipt for the movement of animals, and everyone signs off on it. We’ve had a few little hiccups, but for the most part, our provincial abattoirs have jumped on board.”

Having a good traceability program adds to a positive image for both the province and the country, he said.

“This extra step can give your trading partners more comfort,” he said. “We’ve got the quality assurance program to look after food safety, but this is now the traceability part of it.”

Alberta Pork hopes to move towards an electronic manifest, which will store the information online. The national program, PigTrace, will be implemented soon. PigTrace is being managed by the Canadian Pork Council in collaboration with the CFIA. Once PigTrace is up and running, it will be administered by each province.

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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