Livestock

Attestra has been mandated by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) to manage the identification and traceability system for bovines, ovines and cervids in Québec.

The Starting Point

Québec has high-calibre expertise in food safety and security. Its identification and traceability system allows the Québec agri-food sector to benefit from an efficient management tool and preserve its reputation for offering quality agricultural products.

On September 25, 2001, Agri-Traçabilité Québec (ATQ), an independent non-profit organization, was created to respond to the common objective pursued by the Government of Québec and the Union des producteurs agricoles: the implementation of an identification and traceability system for agricultural products.

Since its creation, ATQ has ensured the development, implementation and management of Québec’s identification and traceability system for livestock and provides daily support to stakeholders in the agricultural sector in fulfilling their traceability obligations.

In 2020, ATQ revised its branding and became Attestra. Attestra continues in pursuit of the mission to provide sensible solutions for the agri-food and environmental sectors to ensure safety and confidence in society.

In Québec

Three fundamental characteristics distinguish the Québec system of identification and traceability: the concept of dual identification of animals, the existence of a multisectoral database in which all information relating to all production sectors is collected, and the obligation for all those involved to declare any movement of their animal. To date, traceability in Québec applies to bovines, ovines, and cervids, from the farm to the slaughterhouse.

Attestra in figures

Statistics as of March 31, 2020
Stakeholders registered in the Attestra database
12,225
Premises registered in the Attestra database
16,363
Declarations transmitted between April 1, 2019
and March 31, 2020
3,401,021
Identifiers ordered between April 1, 2019
and March 31 2020
752,486

Premises Identification

A premises is defined as a place, building or pasture where animals are likely to be kept or move through. Each premises is assigned a unique seven (7) digit number and its geo-positioning coordinates are registered in the Attestra database.

The Québec premises identification portal (French) allows farm owners, operators or tenants to apply for a unique premises identification number (PID) per parcel of land in a simple and secure manner.

Declaration of Animal Movements

All animal movements and deaths must be reported to Attestra as soon as the animals enter a new premises, whether a farm, common pasture, auction, agricultural exhibition, slaughterhouse, etc. Complete traceability, from birth to the slaughterhouse, is therefore achieved in Québec through this process.

Animal Identification

In Québec, bovines, ovines, and cervids are identified as soon as they are born, or as soon as they arrive onto Québec soil if they come from outside the province, by means of two official identifiers: an RFID-type electronic tag and a visual panel, both recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These have the same 15-digit ISO number, a unique number that follows the animal throughout its life.

Producers must declare to Attestra that they have applied the tags on an animal or that they have received a new animal on their farm. They will then provide Attestra with precise information on each animal that has just been identified or received. All identifiers must be applied according to strict instructions to ensure optimal retention.

Advantages

Traceability is the ability to track the movement of a product or a group of products, whether animal, plant, food or ingredients, from one point in the supply chain to another, upstream and downstream. Animal traceability systems are based on three basic elements: the identification of animals, the identification of premises where animals are located, and the tracking of animal movements.

The primary objective of a traceability system is to provide surveillance to protect human health, animal health, and food safety. By enabling the rapid detection of a health problem at its source and ensuring priority and effective intervention, the traceability system limits the economic and social impact on society and preserves the value of livestock.

Epizootics and Diseases

Food safety is at the heart of the concerns of consumers, governments and the agri-food industry. For over a decade, several major animal health and food safety crises have shaken the confidence of consumers and agricultural producers alike. Examples include the crises instigated by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease), avian influenza, the Listeria and salmonellosis epidemics and repeated food recalls, among other major health events.

Economic Advantages

Infectious diseases and health crises can have significant socio-economic repercussions. In 2001, the hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak in England resulted in the slaughter of over 6 million animals and total economic losses estimated at more than $12.4 billion. Economic losses are not only related to crisis management, but also affect the agri-food industry as a whole, the tourism industry, the restaurant industry, and many other sectors. Closer to home, in 2003, the BSE crisis had a negative impact of around $7 billion. The main losses were caused by the fall in exports due to the closure of external markets to local products.

Although the events cited happened a few years ago, the advantages of having an identification system are more relevant than ever. The fundamental role of Québec’s system is to quickly identify and circumscribe the source of contagion and limit the spread of disease. Moreover, the 2020 year, marked by the outbreak of a human pandemic, highlights the need for effective, safe and harmonized systems for rapid intervention to limit the risks inherent to a health crisis.

Consumer Concerns

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the quality and safety of the food they eat. An effective traceability system, in addition to helping maintain consumer confidence in food products, can be an important tool to minimize the impact on human and animal health in the event of a food safety crisis. Knowing where an agricultural product has come from, the route it has taken, its exact location and the contacts it has had with other products can ensure a swift response in the event of a problem and enable necessary recalls within a reasonable timeframe.

Québec's Reputation for Traceability

Agricultural products from Québec enjoy an excellent reputation internationally. This homegrown expertise is the result of many years of research and decisions made by our producers to achieve excellence.

Traceability makes it possible to preserve the value of livestock by avoiding the systematic slaughter of animals in the event of an epidemic. It also offers added value by providing assurances that livestock have not been in contact with sick or disease-ridden animals.