In November 2016, ANAC sent a special bulletin to all members regarding the Canadian Beta Agonist-Free Beef Certification Program, developed by the Canadian Meat Council (CMC) and aimed at meeting requirements for exporting beef to China. At the time, the program required that feed manufacturers guarantee their feed was beta agonist-free in writing, which was contrary to the Canadian Feeds Regulations and therefore could not be adhered to by the Canadian feed industry.
The CMC updated the program to ensure the requirements for the feed section could legally be met by the feed industry. The program has been submitted to China as the new Canadian export program for beef. CFIA published the program on their website in late April and has begun using the program to issue beef export certificates to China.
The updated program states: “Approved commercial suppliers of feed or feed ingredients are feed mills and feed retail outlets that have provided a signed document to the feedlot which includes the statement ‘Appropriate records are maintained through all phases of production to ensure that feed intended for use in the Canadian Beta Agonist-Free Beef Certification Program has not been in contact with beta agonists.’” The program defines beta agonists as ractopamine hydrochloride and zilpaterol hydrochloride only. This program is not mandatory for feed mills and participation in the program will need to be based on individual business decisions.
Unlike the Canadian Ractopamine-Free Pork Certification Program, it is not expected that all beef producers will enroll in the beta agonist-free program. Only certain slaughter establishments export to China and these will be the ones requesting enrolment from their cattle suppliers. The Canadian beef market is still very much interlinked with the US market and therefore, it is expected that ractopamine (Optaflexx) will continue to be used by the majority of feedlots.
The Canadian Beta Agonist-Free Beef Certification Program can be found on the CFIA website at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/meat-and-poultry-products/manual-of-procedures/chapter-11/annex-v/eng/1491926348345/1491926349115.