Research evaluates the impacts of antibiotic alternatives on pork quality and safety
Olymel, Canada’s largest pork producer and processor, is working with scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Université Laval on research to better understand the links between pig gut health, food safety and product quality. The project is part of the Canadian Food Innovators (CFI-ICA) research cluster “Using science and innovation to strengthen Canada’s value-added food industry” through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Program.
“Canadian farmers work hard every day to put safe, high-quality food on our tables and our Government is committed to supporting them,” says the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This collaborative research will help our farmers make informed decisions on the best ways to keep their animals healthy and productive while ensuring our food supply remains safe for consumers.”
Antibiotic resistance poses a growing threat to global public health, so livestock farmers in Canada and other countries are looking for alternatives that will maintain the health, welfare, and production efficiency of livestock without compromising food safety.
To keep animals healthy, they’re using alternatives like probiotics that can boost the immune system by promoting better gut health. But there are still a lot of unknowns about the impact that influencing the pig’s microbiome will have on the quality, safety, and shelf life of pork products.
“Food safety and public health are a top priority for Olymel so we are committed to doing everything we can to understand and control any potential risks,” says Sylvain Fournaise, Vice President of Food Safety and Technical Services. “At Olymel, we are proud to produce high quality pork products and to feed the world.”
The three main objectives of the project are establishing a baseline of bacteria and bacterial families found at different stages of the value chain; evaluating the impact of different probiotics on pig gut health; and comparing the health of piglets raised in different conditions as well as the meat coming from those animals.
“Consumers expect safe food and livestock production that is sustainable and respectful of both animal welfare and human health,” says Joe Lake, Chair of CFI-ICA and Director of Innovation & Research at McCain Foods Limited. “This project showcases the type of food manufacturing innovation we can foster in Canada when we are able to bring together collaborations like this between researchers and industry partners.”
More information on this project, including a video, is available at https://canadianfoodinnovators.ca/project/testing-the-impacts-of-antibiotic-alternatives-on-pork-quality-and-safety.
The Canadian Food Innovators was established in 2013 to enable Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing companies to jointly access federal innovation programs and successfully delivered the country’s first food processing research cluster.