Diseases and Epizootics
Certain diseases cannot be transmitted to humans but can nevertheless cause irreparable damage to existing livestock. The words «hoof-and-mouth disease» and «scrapie» have made many a producer shiver.
Other diseases such as « mad cow disease », possibly associated with Creutzfeld-Jakob's disease in humans, contribute to consumer loss of confidence in the animal-based foods they eat. If this loss of confidence becomes generalized, the economic consequences could put an entire production sector in peril.
Traceability's function is not to prevent disease. It is a tool enabling the rapid identification of affected sites, preventing propagation to other sites; thus limiting the disease or health problem, in the shortest possible delay.
At the economic level, an epidemiological crisis costs the population dearly. In addition to costs associated with the massive slaughter of diseased animals, financial losses also affect the slaughtering and processing sectors, the distribution network and as well as regional tourism, the restaurant industry and more. Traceability offers added value to agriculture as a whole as well as to the population of Quebec.
Moreover, traceability puts Quebec producers at the forefront of agricultural practice. Using new information technologies, the system allows the capture of data on the movement of livestock between different geo-positioned production sites in a single database in Quebec.
This system allows guaranteed follow-up of the health of our livestock, opens new export markets to countries that have heightened their import standards and increases our competitiveness on international markets. In the context of globalization and free-trade, this is an undeniable advance, particularly in Quebec where the producers are the first in North America to benefit from a complete tracing system with reporting procedures for all livestock movement between geo-positioned production sites.
Consumers are more and more concerned about the quality and the safety of foods they buy. Traceability will not eliminate all problems but it is an effective means of isolating the source of a problem and limiting it so that it does not become endemic or spread throughout the processing and distribution sectors to eventually reach consumers.
Rapid reaction time and an efficient action plan will help avoid contamination and will circ;umvent problems before they can affect the consumer.
Quebec consumers can be pleased with the safety measures undertaken by the Quebec government. The traceability system implemented in Quebec is one more step on the road to food biosafety and will enable producers to offer consumers a superior quality product.
Producers in Quebec benefit from an excellent reputation on the international market. This expertise is the result of many years' research as well as decisions made by producers to achieve excellence.
Traceability will help preserve this value by allowing the systematic and wholesale slaughter of livestock to be avoided in the case of an epidemic. It also offers added value by ensuring that animals from a production operation have not come into contact with sick or infected animals.
Our safety criteria are much higher than those of many countries to which we export. Some countries see our standards as being standard of high quality and wish to trade with us. In this way, traceability conveys an additional advantage which will contribute to the heightened reputation of our agricultural products.