ARCHIVED - A Legislative Framework for Traceability: Proposed Elements

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The consultation closed 2012-05-03

How to get in touch with us

The CFIA looks forward to receiving feedback from the interested parties on the proposal for a legislative framework for traceability.
Written comments should be forwarded by May 3, 2012 to:
Peter Pauker
Manager - CFIA Traceability Group,
Domestic Policy Directorate
1400 Merivale Road,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0Y9

Written comments may be sent by facsimile to 613-773-5695 to attention of Peter Pauker (Re: Trace Consultations).

The comments may also be sent via email to


Good planning starts with listening. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) consults with Canadians on issues, enabling public input to the development of public policies and programs. The Agency works to ensure that as many people as possible representing consumers, businesses, associations and individual Canadians get the opportunity to have their say in policy development.

The purpose of this paper is to engage Canadians and stakeholders to obtain views on elements of a possible legislative framework for livestock and poultry traceability in Canada. This framework would be enabling. Detailed requirements and obligations for stakeholders will be developed, in the future, through a separate consultation process as regulatory proposals are prepared under this framework. These regulations will be implemented for a species of animals (or multiple species), in a phased-in manner based on industry readiness and extensive consultations with affected stakeholders. These consultations are required, and represent an important part of the regulatory approval process.

Traceability is defined as the ability to follow an item or group of items - including animals, plants, food products and agricultural inputs such as feed, seed or ingredients - from one point in the supply chain to another. This paper will focus on the proposed elements of life-cycle traceability for livestock and poultry species. For the purposes of this paper, life-cycle traceability refers to the scope from birth of an animal on a Canadian farm or import into Canada, up until its death (on-farm or at slaughter) or export out of Canada.


In 2006, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture committed to phase in the National Agriculture and Food Traceability System, and mandated the Industry-Government Advisory Committee on traceability to provide a forum for cooperation and coordination among governments and industry. In the summer of 2009, Ministers committed to move forward on a comprehensive, mandatory national traceability system for livestock and poultry, which is critical for managing animal health and food safety issues, as well as expanding market access and driving efficiencies.

To deliver on this commitment, the federal government proposes to develop a national legislative framework for traceability of animals. The proposal will strengthen Canada's existing traceability framework under the Health of Animals Act, which already includes authorities for animal identification requirements and elements of movement reporting. The proposed framework will enhance Canada's ability to: effectively manage animal health and related human health issues; rapidly respond to disease outbreaks and natural disasters (e.g. floods, ice storms) affecting the Canadian agricultural resource base; and efficiently respond to food safety issues that may originate from the animal resource base.

Depending on the sector to be regulated, the framework would require reporting of timely, accurate and relevant traceability information to databases maintained by industry-led administrators (e.g. Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA)) and would have strong provisions to ensure the protection of private and confidential business information. It would also allow for the sharing of traceability information among authorized stakeholders for intended uses. Beyond being a tool to manage animal and related human health and food safety issues, traceability could provide tangible benefits to industry through reduced economic impacts of animal health emergencies, and could play a role to help maintain existing domestic and international markets, and gain new ones.

The following are the proposed elements to enable implementation of livestock and poultry traceability:

Elements of the Proposed Traceability Framework

1. Animal Identification

The proposed framework would retain the current animal identification requirements that exist under the Health of Animals Act and Regulations and would permit further development of specific regulatory requirements, which could include:

  1. Ability to confirm the identity of an animal either by determining if a unique identification device has been applied to an animal or by allocating a group (lot or flock) identification number;
  2. Ability to enable the use of alternative methods of identification for certain species (e.g. DNA, retinal scan) with evolution of science and technology;
  3. Ability to require the identification of imported animals in a manner consistent with existing requirements for domestic animals; and
  4. When there is industry support for the collection of the information, ability to require the collection of information related to additional attributes of animals (e.g. breed, genetic enhancements).

2. Location Identification

Identification of locations where animals can be found is critical for any traceability system. The identification and validation of premises (at a land-parcel level) is a provincial responsibility. Provinces are taking various approaches for implementing premises identification. To help ensure consistency, the federal framework would require that locations be identified so that key movements can be reported. This requirement would permit the use of existing provincial and territorial premises registries (mandatory or voluntary), as long as they are built on national standards adopted by federal, provincial and territorial governments. When there is an agreement with industry on key locations that should report traceability information, the development of specific regulatory requirements could include:

  1. Ability to require the identification of locations where animals are kept, assembled or disposed of;
  2. Ability to require that locations be identified prior to animals being moved to and from those locations;
  3. Ability to maintain and link the identity of an animal with its location of birth/origin and other key locations where the animal has been during its life within Canada; and
  4. Ability to know the locations that are registered as linked, i.e. premises which are considered as a single (animal health) unit because of the regular movements of animals/products between them.

3. Movement and Other Event Reporting

Movement reporting is essential for an effective traceability system. The scope of movement information requirements, by species, would be developed through extensive and transparent consultations between the CFIA and industry. Once the technology permits and the industry infrastructure is in place, the proposed framework would require reporting of animal movements and other events critical for disease management and food safety to an industry-led administrator (e.g. CCIA). This authority would permit development of specific regulatory requirements, which may include the following:

  1. Ability to relate the identity of an animal with important movements along the life-cycle continuum;
  2. Ability to require custodians of animals to report key animal movements during their lives, including the identification (e.g. license plate) of means used to move animals;
  3. Ability to establish which animals came in contact with others during movement from one location to another;
  4. Ability to require the reporting of certain movement information at designated geographical check-points or zones (e.g. West Hawk Lake);
  5. Ability to require reporting of events (e.g. allocation, manufacture, distribution, sale, application, activation, replacement, retirement) related to approved means of identification (e.g. ear tags); and
  6. Ability to require custodians to report other events (e.g. animal importation and exportation).

4. Authorized Uses and Sharing of Information

The current animal identification program in Canada requires the collection of personal and confidential information. Similarly, some provinces require regulated parties to report personal information under provincial traceability frameworks (e.g. Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba). The proposed traceability framework would require the collection of additional information (e.g. reporting of key movements) that will be managed by industry-led administrators.

To address stakeholders' concerns about appropriate protection of that information, there would be provisions in the legislation outlining authorized access to and intended uses of traceability information. These authorities would add to the protection provided by the federal Privacy Act. The authorities would permit the development of specific regulatory requirements, which could include:

  1. Ability to clearly define authorized and appropriate uses of traceability information. The information collected under this framework would only be used for those purposes;
  2. Ability to enable access to traceability information for use by provincial and federal governments, as well as others (e.g. veterinarians and emergency responders) entrusted to manage animal, human health and food safety issues; and
  3. Ability to allow access to aggregate and non-personal information contained within the traceability databases for purposes other than the management of health issues and emergencies such as: animal demographic studies, analysis of disease trends, simulations of disease outbreaks.

5. Compliance

The legislative framework would include provisions to promote compliance by regulated parties. To achieve compliance, the CFIA would take a progressive approach beginning with education, advice and awareness building; followed by inspections and enforcement actions, where necessary. More specifically, the framework would permit:

  1. Ability to create offences and penalties for unauthorized uses and disclosures of personal information collected under the framework.
  2. Ability to create prohibitions, e.g. failure to identify an animal prior to its sale; and
  3. Ability to develop and employ a compliance and enforcement program prescribing responsibilities for all stakeholders and defining contraventions of those provisions.

6. Reporting and Record Keeping

The current animal identification program in Canada mandates the reporting of information to the appointed industry administrator. At present not-for-profit industry-led organizations, such as CCIA and Agri-Traçabilité Québec (ATQ), collect information from regulated parties. The framework would use the same approach to require the reporting of information to appointed industry administrators. The framework would permit:

  1. The reporting of animal and location identification data, and movement information in a prescribed format, manner and timeframe.
  2. Ability to conduct compliance verifications based on on-site records corresponding to the data submitted to industry-led administrators.
  3. Recording and retaining information corresponding to some events that may be excluded from the reporting requirements (e.g. record keeping requirements for movement of sheep 18 months of age or older under section 175.1 of the Health of Animals Regulations).
  4. Establishment of clear guidelines and schedules for the retention and disposition of personal and confidential data collected under the traceability framework.
  5. Expedited requirements for the reporting of traceability information during emergencies.

Additional Considerations for a Traceability Framework


Cost-sharing, is a national principle in the development of traceability systems. It recognizes that the benefits of traceability will be realized by both society in general and industry. Through the Industry-Government Advisory Committee, industry and governments are working together to develop a cost-sharing framework. This approach will result in a fair, cost-effective and financially sustainable system.


To ensure an effective national system, the federal, provincial and territorial governments will establish various standards for traceability, e.g. standards for reporting and recording of traceability data. For interoperable and seamless information systems, the standards could be incorporated in regulations developed under the framework. The system will strive to be flexible to allow for the evolution of those standards.

Technology and Traceability National Information Portal (TNIP):

Technology will play a key role in the implementation of traceability systems. Stakeholders recognize that technology should permit implementation of traceability systems at the speed of commerce. The development and implementation of TNIP is a key component of Canada's proposed framework and would provide authorized users with a single point of access to compile information about animal identification, location identification and movements of animals, as maintained in a number of provincial and industry-led databases. Information sharing agreements would have to be negotiated to facilitate the sharing of information via TNIP. This information could be cross-referenced with geo-positioning tools to achieve the most rapid, targeted, and effective method for responding to disease outbreaks or food safety issues.

Flexible Implementation:

The legislative framework would contain enabling authorities for implementing traceability framework. The CFIA intends to develop a flexible framework and is considering including authorities to: requiring certain information to accompany animals during their movements; and requiring establishment of designated geographical check-points or zones (e.g. West Hawk Lake - Ontario/Manitoba border) and requiring reporting of certain information at these check-points. The intent is to have legislative authorities in place and implement regulatory requirements at a later time in consultation with stakeholders.

Next Steps

The federal government is considering options for developing and implementing a legislative framework for traceability. Regulations would be developed, once the legislative framework is in place. These regulations would be implemented for a species (or multiple species), in a phased-in manner based on industry readiness and extensive consultations with affected stakeholders. To inform the development of the legislative framework, the CFIA looks forward to receiving feedback from the interested parties on the proposed elements outlined in this paper. Written comments should be forwarded before May 3, 2012 using the contact information provided under How to get in touch with us section of this document.

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