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Horse Welfare Alliance Accepted on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Equine Working Group

28 Aug 2009… HWAC now has stakeholder status in the Equine Working Group (EWG) which was formed by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). This Working Group was put together because the European Commission has concerns about the pharmaceutical contents in meat exported from Canada for food purposes.

The EWG is populated by representation from all the Canadian processors, two representatives from Equine Canada and a number of CFIA people as well as some folks from other Canadian government agencies including the Veterinary Drug Directorate.

BOTTOM LINE: Traceability of equine animals is going to be required for two reasons:

  1. Control of infectious diseases (The CFIA EWG is not dealing with this issue at this time).
  2. Traceability of horses for the purpose of reviewing health records respecting the administration of pharmaceuticals.

Point No. 2. is what the EWG is working on. The horse community needs to start now maintaining records for each horse and/or lot of horses related to the administration of pharmaceuticals including wormers. Research is currently underway in Alberta with respect to withdrawal times of wormers that contain Moxidectin.

The welfare of our Canadian horse herd is dependent on the industry as a whole (as we have learned from the experiences of our neighbours to the south). There is discussion in the public and fear that there will be quarantine procedures invoked. I do not anticipate quarantine rules from discussions I have heard so far. Certainly the key is to determine withdrawal times of medications and the health records to show what medications have been administration to an animal and if there is the possibility of residue in an animal that would endanger a consumer then processing would have to be delayed until the the animal would be past the determined withdrawal time.

HWAC Partners, SPREAD THE WORD, please create a program with your respective members that will encourage people to maintain health records for their horses beginning immediately. The veterinary profession and the respective practitioners will assist and in most cases keep records for prescribed medications to an individual animal, but it is the horse owner’s responsibility to provide the information.

It is my observation to this point that the government agencies and processing plants are acting responsibly. It is our turn as horse people to support this. We need to urge the government agencies to identify withdrawal times and I believe that process is underway.

Please feel free to contact me with your suggestions and/or questions.

– Bill desBarres