Health Canada’s new policies to phase out growth promotion and production claims for all medically important antimicrobial drugs used in food animals came into effect December 1, 2018. With the policy changes, laying hens have been removed from the labels for antibiotics Oxytetracycline and Chlortetracycline, making the use of these drugs off-label in laying hens.

When previously used to treat sick flocks, these drugs had a zero egg withdrawal time. Now, due to being off-label, a minimum 24-hour withdrawal time for eggs is being prescribed as per the recommendation of the Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (CgFARAD).

EFC has met with personnel from CgFARAD, Health Canada (Veterinary Drugs Directorate) and the Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians to discuss the issue and identify short and medium/long term solutions. These include an emergency drug release, storage processes for testing, using the ‘minor use’ pathway to work to have a laying hen claim added to the antibiotic(s), and conducting a depletion rate study to obtain data on chemical residue levels in eggs.

In the short-term, any farmers experiencing challenges with this should contact Jenna Griffin at ext. 129. We can provide contact information for individuals who can help farmers get through the process.