Traceability: Why do you need it?

Table of Contents

Understanding Traceability Requirements in Your Sector

This table provides an overview of requirements for the 3 Pillars of Traceability for various commodities in the Ontario agri-food industry.


Premises ID

Product/Animal ID Movement Recording & Reporting
Beef Cattle
Ontario: voluntary registration Federal: Mandatory individual animal identification Currently no requirements; Federal Regulations expected by 2015
Dairy Production

Ontario: voluntary registration

Industry: mandatory through licensing

Federal: Mandatory individual animal identification Currently no requirements; Federal Regulations expected by 2015
Ontario: voluntary registration Product/Animal ID - Federal: Mandatory animal identification requirements depending on the type of facility or hog (e.g., breeding, market), transaction or movement of hogs. Refer to the PigTrace program at Movement Recording & Reporting - Federal regulations came into force on July 1, 2014 and the requirements vary by shipper and receiver type (e.g., producer, assembly yard, packer). For more information refer to the PigTrace program at Click here for more information.
Ontario: voluntary registration Federal: Mandatory individual identification Currently no requirements; Federal Regulations anticipated, expected date to be determined from upcoming Health Of Animals Act amendment
Poultry (chicken, turkey & eggs)

Ontario: voluntary registration

Industry: mandatory through licensing

Industry level - Flock identification Industry level - flock production data and movement recording
Ontario: voluntary registration Industry/Market specific Industry/Market specific
Processed/packaged products
Ontario: voluntary registration Industry/Market specific Industry/Market specific

Note: Where Federal Regulations are not in place, the above requirements may vary with other provinces, and all recent changes may not be captured in this table.

National and International Traceability Requirements

Horticulture Traceability Requirements - for fruit and vegetable growers/packers:

Livestock and Poultry Traceability in Canada:

Benefits of Traceability

| Emergency management | Preparing for livestock traceability legislation | Increase your market access | Improve your operational efficienciesProtect your brand |   

Emergency Management

  • Product Recall: A traceability system that includes all 3 pillars of traceability can reduce the time spent on recall, which means businesses can get their product out of the market faster, protect their customers, their reputation, and potentially reduce market losses.
  • Effective and efficient incident management (e.g. weather related): Having all 3 pillars of traceability in agri-food traceability systems allows for improved planning, preparedness, response and recovery efforts during an incident to help minimize damages, assist in relief activities and crisis management, and provide support to agri-food businesses that need it during an incident.
  • Animal health event management and disease surveillance: Traceability helps to mitigate disease spread and assist in disease management/response with premises identification, animal identification and movement tracking of animals for all agri-food businesses in Ontario.

Preparing for Federal Livestock Traceability Legislation

As part of the federal and provincial governments' commitment to developing a national traceability system for Canada, certain livestock sectors will be phased in with regulations governing traceability under the 3 pillars (premises identification, product/animal identification and movement recording/reporting). Learn more about what the requirements are at Understanding Traceability Requirements in Your Sector.

Ontario Livestock Manifest

A universal shipping manifest has been developed in Ontario by an industry led group. This multi-species manifest will meet the minimum data requirements of the national Cattle Industry Traceability Plan.

The use of the manifests is 100% voluntary and the information collected is the responsibility of each party. Manifest records provide an important proof of shipment, can aid in the event of a disease outbreak, and be useful in resolving disputes over shipment details.

  • Triplicate manifest sheets are bound in books of 25 sets
    • Copies for shipper, transporter, and receiver
  • Manifests are available free of charge from Service Ontario (shipping charges will apply)

Click here to for Service Ontario Publications and search for 018681

Increase Your Market Access

Traceability plays a significant role in helping businesses be competitive in the domestic and global market place. The ability to trace a product through all stages of production, processing, distribution, transport and retail to the end point, or consumer, is becoming a standard business practice for all involved in today's food supply chain.

Without an effective traceability system, you may be shut out of lucrative new markets or lose your existing markets to businesses that can demonstrate the value of their traceability system. Recent outbreaks of food illness also show the financial devastation to businesses and whole sectors when their reputation of providing safe food is put into question without effective traceability.

How can traceability help your business with accessing new markets or retaining existing ones?

  • Verify product claims and attributes
  • Prove compliance with food safety programs and requirements from buyers
  • Enhance market transactions
  • Improve customer service
  • Improve product quality
  • Adhere to market/trade requirements e.g. country of origin requirements
  • Confidence/loyalty by customers in your product
  • Value chain partnership opportunities
  • Support for local food
  • Facilitate re-entry to export markets in the event of animal health incident

Example: An Ontario agri-food distributer, who recently implemented a traceability system for their facility, experienced an increase of 5-6% in sales due to their ability to meet their market's traceability requirements and were also able to access new markets as a result of their improved ability to trace their products backward and forward through the supply chain.

Learn more about strategic marketing to access new markets:

Improve Your Operational Efficiencies

Improved production and operational efficiencies

Some examples are:

  • Improved production processes with reductions in errors, reduced labour requirements with better recordkeeping and automated data collection systems that introduce process efficiencies
  • Increased process efficiencies could result in production volume increases
  • Reduction of costly waste. Examples: using proper First In-First Out protocols, using animal medications before they expire, or loss of environmental controls due to chemicals that lose their effectiveness from long-term storage.
Improved logistics and inventory management

Some examples are:

  • Avoid overstocking or running out of materials needed for production - You only buy what you need and have less unused material in storage.
  • Improved communication with suppliers by tracking problem inputs by the date purchased, quantity and lot number used
  • Improved coordination and scheduling of deliveries
  • Improved customer service - knowing what you have in stock can help you fill orders more efficiently
Improved supply chain management

Some examples are:

  • Improved scheduling of production needs with suppliers and buyers
  • Better quality control
  • Improved access to information
  • Better decision making with access to production information and business intelligence

Protect Your Brand

Some examples of how traceability can help businesses protect their brand and reputation in the marketplace are:

  • Meeting compliance requirements for regulations and food safety programs
  • Reduction of business risks beyond regulatory compliance by protecting existing markets and new market access with an effective traceability system
  • Reduction in insurance rates for businesses that have proven traceability systems
  • Tracking and effective recall of problems with specific products quickly and accurately. This can help you avoid potential damage to your reputation for quality and safety with your buyers and customers.

Example: An Ontario retailer recently realized the value of their new recall system which gave them the ability to locate all their products in hours instead of days. Here is what they had to say about their improved traceability system and recall:

"A public warning was issued on behalf of the CFIA which warned of traces of peanuts in products bought from one of our suppliers. With our new point of sale system, we know exactly who bought what and when. As soon as I got the call about the recall, I was able to run a report showing who bought products between the affected dates, and what their email addresses were, so that I could contact them directly. We were also able to tell which supplier we normally buy this product from and when our last shipment arrived. Traceability is a powerful tool when it comes to keeping our customers safe and healthy".

For more information:
Toll Free: 1 877 424-1300

Author: Food Safety and Traceability Programs Branch/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 01 February 2013
Last Reviewed: 01 February 2013