The Canadian Integrated Traceability Program (CITP) is one of many government efforts to aid the recovery of the Canadian meat and livestock industry. The industry has struggled to bounce back after bans and a fall in consumer demand after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada's herds.
Legal traceability requirements, implemented after BSE was discovered, allows manufacturers and regulators to track food from the source to the consumer. This makes it easier to pinpoint problems when a food safety incident occurs, and make recalls if necessary.
BSE was discovered in several Canadian cows in 2003. The discovery and subsequent backlash from importers caused Canada to push through a drastic strategy to curtail the disastrous effects disease has had on the county's meat industry.
CITP is a $1.7m (US$1.5m) part of the strategy. The program aims to get producers, companies, industry organizations and researchers to come up with new traceability schemes. Each group can acquire up to US$134,000 for pilot traceability projects in Canada.
Mark Drouin, the senior program officer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said that CITP could advance a national livestock tractability program and the test schemes could support the direction of that initiative.
However, the main direction of CITP is launch traceability systems with the latest technology.
"Historically, we've always had traceability in the form of ear tags or branding," said Drouin. "Now were using this initiative to push forward with the most advanced traceability technology at our disposal."
To ensure cutting-edge traceability, CITP is coupled with the Canadian Radio Frequency Identification (CRFID) Reader Program, a $1.8m (US$1.6m) investment in RFID tracking and tracing of cattle and meat.
CRFID reimburses applicants for 50 per cent of the costs relating to the purchase of RFID readers, associated hardware and software as well as installation.
Drouin believes that these are important steps in continuing the battle against the BSE. Other issues involving trade disputes, animal health, supply and border access will also have to be tackled in the future, he said.
The CITP application period opened on September 6. The deadline for 2006 applications is October 1. More information about CITP can be viewed at: http://www.agr.gc.ca/citp
The CRFID scheme is available to slaughter and processing plants, sales markets, veterinarians, veterinarian schools and universities, pathology labs, mobile butchers, dead stock operators, commercial livestock truckers, commercial feedlots, grazing co-operatives and community pastures. The CRFID application period ends on December 31, 2007.