Archived - Proposal – Standards for Weed Seeds in Livestock Feeds

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June 2016


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has embarked on a comprehensive change agenda to strengthen its foundation of legislation, regulatory programs and inspection delivery. These directions set the context for the renewal of the federal Feeds Regulations (Regulations).

The goal of renewing the Regulations is to develop a modernized risk- and outcome- based regulatory framework for feeds which:

  • safeguards feeds and the food production continuum;
  • attains the most effective and efficient balance between fair and competitive trade in the market; and
  • minimizes regulatory burden.

Modernization of the Regulations provides the opportunity to review feed controls, standards, labelling and other regulatory requirements. The purpose of this proposal is to review the regulatory oversight of weed seeds in livestock feeds and recommend possible updates and amendments to the current requirements.

Current Situation

In Canada, federal regulatory oversight of weed seeds (i.e., their introduction and presence in commodities and their spread in the Canadian environment) is a partnership between a number of Government of Canada organizations, each defined by their respective legislation which guides their individual mandates and corresponding programming:

  • CFIA Plant Program:
    • Seed – to prevent the introduction and spread of new weeds in Canada through seeds for propagation;
    • Invasive Alien Species and Domestic Plant Health – to prevent the introduction and spread within Canada of plant pests of quarantine significance, to detect and control or eradicate designated plant pests in Canada;
  • Canadian Grain Commission: to establish and maintain standards of quality for Canadian grain, regulate grain handling in Canada, and ensure the dependability of grain as a commodity for domestic and export markets.

In addition, the Feed Program of CFIA verifies that livestock feeds manufactured and sold in Canada or imported are safe, effective and are labelled appropriately to contribute to the production and maintenance of healthy livestock and safe foods of animal origin. The Feeds Regulations contain standards for seeds of weeds and their presence in livestock feeds, defined in sub-section 19(1) and Schedule II:

  • 19 (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a feed shall not contain …
    • (a) more than one-half of one per cent of the seeds of weeds listed in Table I of Schedule II except when screenings are sold or offered for sale singly, in which case the screenings may contain any amount not exceeding one per cent of such materials and an additional one per cent of wild mustard and hare's ear mustard seed …
    • (h) in the case of a feed that is chopped, crushed or ground, more than 15 viable seeds per 30 g of the weeds listed in Table 2 of Schedule II

Schedule II of the current Regulations consists of two (2) tables that list various weed seed species referred to in the standards outlined in sub-section 19(1) of the Regulations:

  • Table I Injurious weeds under paragraph 19(1)(a); and
  • Table II Weeds under paragraph 19(1)(h).


Discussions between the Animal Feed Division (AFD) and the other CFIA and Government of Canada representatives mentioned above were held to identify and compare current and future regulatory oversight measures for weed seeds and to identify potential impacts on their respective regulatory measures as they pertain to the modernization of the Feeds Regulations. Discussions indicated there would be minimal impact to their respective regulatory oversight if changes were proposed to the Feeds Regulations with respect to revising standards for weed seeds in livestock feeds.

In the regulatory development process, the AFD intends to identify, to the extent possible, known or reasonably-foreseeable hazards that pose risks that all parties involved in the feed supply chain must take into consideration when preparing and implementing preventive control plans. Livestock feed and feed ingredients can act as a route of entry for hazards into human food and for hazards that pose a risk to animal health, plant health (e.g., pests of domestic or international quarantine significance), or the environment (e.g., invasive plant species not known to be present in a local ecosystem). As proposed in the CFIA's Feed Hazard Identification / Preventive Controls – Regulatory Framework Proposal all those involved throughout the feed supply chain would complete a hazard identification and assessment with respect to the feed-related activities in which they are involved. This includes preventive controls for ingredients to be used in rations so they are safe and would not introduce a hazard in the feed, including the presence of weed seeds in feeds, due to the potential negative affect on the animal and plant health or the environment.

The current weed seeds standards outlined in the Regulations have not been updated in more than 30 years and do not reflect the weeds that are of most concern currently or those for which risk has not yet been determined.


Given the potential impacts associated with the presence of weed seeds in livestock feeds, there remains a continued need for an enforceable regulatory framework in a modernized regulations.

Therefore, it is proposed that the Regulations be amended to include an outcome based requirement that prohibits weed seeds in an amount that is known to or would pose a foreseeable risk of harm to animal or plant health or the environment.

In support of this outcome based approach, it is further proposed that:

  • the two (2) tables that comprise Schedule II of the Regulations be merged into one (1) single list of injurious weed seed species that are present and established in Canada;
  • the list of species be revised to reflect current species of concern;
  • the table be incorporated by reference in the Regulations to allow for timely updates, as necessary; and
  • the standard of not more than one half of one percent (0.5%) by weight of the seeds of weeds listed in the table be allowed in feeds, either individually or cumulatively, except in the case of screenings sold singly in which case they may contain one percent (1%) by weight. In other words, a feed may contain any combination of the weed seed species listed in the Table so long as the standard of 0.5% by weight is not exceeded. In addition, no individual weed seed species listed in the Table may be present in feed at a level greater than 0.5%.

Appendix I is the proposed revised list of injurious weed seeds species of concern.

It is important to note that the Canadian Grain Commission administers the Off Grades of Grain and Grades of Screenings Order which establishes grades and standards for the sale of screenings (mixtures of whole and broken grain that are removed from other grain as a result of cleaning and do not qualify for any other established grade) and specifically references "…seeds designated as injurious in the Feeds Regulations…" as part of the regulatory standard. As indicated above, it is proposed that the standards in section 19 and the tables in Schedule II of the Feeds Regulations, relevant to weed seeds in feeds, would undergo a significant revision. While it is expected that the revised list of weed seeds will continue to utilize the title "injurious weed seeds" the list will also incorporate additional weed seed species of concern, not currently included in the Regulations, which could potentially impact the compliance rating of future grain products sold as screenings. The AFD will continue to consult with CGC throughout this process to ensure impacts are limited, where possible.

Anticipated Outcomes

This proposed approach to weed seed oversight for livestock feeds would:

  • modernize the Regulations and reduce regulatory burden for regulated parties with respect to product-oriented controls while still identifying species that must be considered as hazards for the purposes of preventive control plans;
  • be more aligned and integrated with the mandates of other CFIA program areas and the Canadian Grain Commission;
  • allow for timely updates as new weed seeds species of concern are identified; and,
  • allow CFIA to maintain regulatory oversight for hazards that may negatively impact animal health, plant health or the environment.

Stakeholders are reminded that under the authority of the Plant Protection Act any pests, i.e. any thing that is injurious or potentially injurious, whether directly or indirectly, to plants or to products or by-products of plants including weed seeds, contained on the List of Pests Regulated by Canada would continue to be prohibited from all commodities, including livestock feeds, and would be in addition to any regulatory controls outlined in the Feeds Act and Regulations.

Have your say

The CFIA is seeking feedback on the proposal to modify the standards related to weed seeds in the Feeds Regulations:

  • Would the proposed amendments to the Feeds Regulations be effective in mitigating risks to animal health, plant health and the environment?
  • Are there weed seeds species that should be added to the proposed Table?
  • Are there weed seeds species that should be removed from the proposed Table?
  • Are there options not mentioned in this proposal that should be explored?
  • Any additional feedback?

We strongly encourage you to provide your input and feedback, which is critically important to the success of the regulatory modernization initiative. Written comments may be forwarded by July 15, 2016 to:

Sergio Tolusso
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Animal Feed Division
59 Camelot Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
Fax: 613-773-7565

Appendix I – Proposed List of Weed Seed Species of Concern

The following species are currently included in the Feeds Regulations in Tables 1 or 2 of Schedule II and would continue to be present in the proposed Weed Seeds Table based on their potentially negative impact on human and animal health and the environment; information provided from plant health risk assessments conducted by the CFIA (e.g. Halogeton) and opinions expressed by other national and provincial authorities.

Part I – Species currently in the Feeds Regulations – proposing to keep
Weed Seed Species Max in feeds Max in screenings
Agrostemma githago – Corn (Purple) cockle 0.5% 1%
Vaccaria hispanica (Mill.) Rauschert (=Saponaria vaccaria L.) – Cow Cockle 0.5% 1%
Lolium temulentum L. – Darnel 0.5% 1%
Rumex spp – Dock 0.5% 1%
Descurainia sophia (L.) Webb ex Prantl – Flixweed 0.5% 1%
Halogeton glomeratus (M. Bieb) Ledeb – Halogeton 0.5% 1%
Solanum carolinense L. – Horse nettle 0.5% 1%
Berteroa incana (L.) D.C. – Hoary alyssum 0.5% 1%
Conringia orientalis (L.) C. Presl. – Mustard, hare's ear 0.5% 2%
Sinapis arvensis L. – Mustard, wild 0.5% 2%
Erysimum cheiranthoides L. – Mustard, wormseed 0.5% 1%
Jacobaea vulgaris Gaertn. – Ragwort, tansy 0.5% 1%
Thlaspi arvense L. – Stinkweed 0.5% 1%
Euphorbia spp. – Spurge 0.5% 1%
Linaria vulgaris Mill – Yellow Toad flax 0.5% 1%
Raphanus raphanistrum L. – Wild radish 0.5% 1%
Brassica rapa L. subsp. oleifera (DC.)
Metzg (=Brassica campestris L.) – Wild turnip
0.5% 1%

The addition of the following "new" species to the proposed Weed Seeds Table is being suggested. The proposed amendments would include emerging weed species of concern based on their potential negative impacts for animal health or the environment; based on information provided from the plant health risk assessments conducted by CFIA (e.g. jimsonweed) and opinions expressed by other national and provincial authorities.

Part II – New species – proposing to add
Weed Seed Species Max in feeds Max in screenings
Xanthium strumarium L. – Cocklebur 0.5% 1%
Cynoglossum officinale L. – Hound's tongue 0.5% 1%
Datura stramonium L. – Jimsonweed 0.5% 1%
Consolida ajacis (L.) Schur – Larkspur 0.5% 1%
Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. – Large-leaf Lupine 0.5% 1%
Solanum spp – Nightshade 0.5% 1%
Conium maculatum L. – Poison hemlock 0.5% 1%
Cicuta spp – Water hemlock 0.5% 1%

Part III – Species currently in the Feeds Regulations that are proposed to be removed based on a reduced risk of harm to animal health or the environment

  • Elymus repens (L.) Gould – Couch grass
  • Amaranthus retroflexus L. – Redroot pigweed
  • Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. – Ragweed, common
  • Ambrosia trifida L. – Ragweed, giant
  • Asclepias spp – Milkweed
  • Axyris amaranthoides L. – Russian pigweed
  • Barbarea spp. – Winter cress or yellow rocket
  • Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. – Mustard, Indian
  • Brassica nigra (L.) W.D.J. Koch – Mustard, black
  • Camelina microcarpa Andrz ex DC. – Little-pod False flax
  • Camelina parodii Ibarra & La Porte – False Flax, flat-seeded
  • Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz. – Gold-of-Pleasure
  • Lepidium spp. (= Cardaria spp) – Whitetop
  • Rhaponticum repens (L.) Hidalgo – Russian knapweed
  • Chenopodium album L. – Lambs quarters
  • Leucanthemum vulgare Lam. (=Chrysanthemum leucanthemum L.) – Ox-eye daisy
  • Cichorium intybus L. – Chicory
  • Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. – Canada thistle
  • Convolvulus arvensis L. – Field bindweed
  • Cuscuta spp. – Dodder
  • Daucus carota L. subsp. carota – Wild carrot
  • Descurainia pinnata (Walter) Britton – Mustard, tansy
  • Echium vulgare L. – Blue weed
  • Erucastrum gallicum (Willd.) O.E. Schultz. – Mustard, dog
  • Galium aparine L. – Cleavers
  • Lappula squarrosa (Retz.) Dumort. (=Lappula echinata Gilib.) – Stickseed
  • Lepidium campestre (L.) W.T.Aiton – Field peppergrass
  • Neslia paniculata (L.) Desv. – Mustard, ball
  • Plantago lanceolata L. – Ribgrass
  • Salsola tragus L. (=Salsola pestifer A. Nelson) – Russian thistle
  • Silene latifolia Poir. subsp. alba (Mill.) Greuter & Burdet (=Silene pratensis (Rafn) Gord. & Gren.) – White cockle
  • Silene vulgaris (Moench) Garcke – Bladder campion
  • Silene noctiflora L. – Night-flowering catchfly
  • Sisymbrium altissimum L. – Mustard, tumble
  • Sisymbrium loeselii L. – Mustard, tall hedge
  • Sonchus arvensis L. – Perennial sow thistle