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Food animal information document for poultry

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1.0 Food animal information document: producers and operators information exchange

The food animal information document also known as flock sheet in poultry provides the operator with the necessary level of confidence that identified potential chemical and biological hazards associated with live domestic poultry have been considered, and to the extent possible, controlled and/or prevented at the farm level and/or during transportation. This section covers animal information requirements to be met by the operator who obtains this information from the producers to meet the requirements of section 165 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Flock sheet data allows Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) staff to judge if the required information as per the SFCR has been provided and that the operator is taking the necessary measures to evaluate incoming flocks according to the written specifications contained in their preventive control plan.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) provide a regulatory basis for the mandatory receipt and the enforcement thereof of ante mortem information for all shipments of live poultry (excluding ostriches, rheas, emus and game birds) received by an operator. The regulations provide basis for on farm food safety that will facilitate auditing of the information on submitted flock sheets and assist with implementation of on-farm HACCP programs as developed by national producer associations.

Flock sheets for chickens, turkeys and other poultry classes have been developed by following national organisations:

Flock sheets have also been developed by some Provincial producer associations. A copy of the current flock sheet could be obtained from the respective provincial and/or national association. The standardized broiler flock sheets can also be used for geese, pheasants, quail etc. For other classes of birds, abattoir operators may develop a customized version by either using the flock sheets designed for chicken and turkey as templates or by developing their own provided they contain all the requisite information.

2.0 Flock sheets for birds other than ostriches, rheas, emus and game birds

Before slaughtering birds other than ostrich, rhea, emu and game birds, an operator must obtain the following information from the producer and/or lead catcher and/or carrier:

  1. name and contact information of the producer and/or individual permanent code
  2. address, code or identification number of the last location for example barn number and farm identification
  3. identification of the lot Footnote 1 / flock number
    • existing codes issued by the local marketing boards maybe used for first three items
  4. name of the on-farm food safety program under which the birds were raised
  5. the time at which catching of birds for loading started
  6. the time of last access to food and water before loading
  7. describe any physical and chemical hazards the bird might have been exposed to, if it could result in contaminated meat product
    • the information must cover:
      1. the entire life of birds that are raised for meat (including hatched and in-ovo periods in hatchery),
      2. the last 120 days of life for birds/flock raised for breeding/egg production
  8. mortality rate (%), for example, number of dead birds during the growth period in the barn or in a specific lot
  9. outstanding incidents, disease outbreaks (including those necessitating a medical treatment) during the growth period, for example, respiratory problems, diarrhea and the date when the flock recovered
  10. to prevent violative drug residues in the derived meat products details for the following medication usage must be obtained:
    • any drugs that were used to treat a disease or syndrome
    • any vaccines that were administered to the bird for the periods described in point 7 above
    • for any drugs used in an extra-label manner for the periods described in point 7 above
    • any drugs used in the last 14 days that required a withdrawal period
    • below details must be obtained:
      1. name(s) of those drugs and vaccines
      2. their route of administration
      3. the first and last date of the administration
      4. the dosage administered and
      5. the withdrawal period

In addition, the operators should also receive information from producers on the usage of Category 1 antimicrobials in preventive manner.

Providing all the above required information (1 to 10) with a signed declaration makes a flock sheet complete.

Unless all the above information is received in a timely manner, operators should not schedule the catching of the birds.

In addition to the above, the operators may collect/collate the following information and accordingly include in their PCP:

  1. number of chicks/poults placed (including extras), date of placement
  2. growing set-up for turkeys (outside or inside)
  3. all non-feed medications used (including dates) for which a withdrawal time applies
  4. all feed medications (for which a withdrawal time applies) used in the last two (2) feed rations for turkey, and in the last feed ration for chicken
  5. origin of animal feed stuffs: i.e., whether the feed was mixed "on-farm" or commercial, and in the latter case, specify if pelletized or loose (mashed)
  6. finishing times of bird catching (hour : minutes) on a truck basis
  7. number of birds being shipped
  8. number of crates on the load and the floor surface area of each crate (type of crate may be sufficient for operator purposes)
  9. average bird weight (calculated from the truck weight filled minus the truck weight empty divided by number of birds received)
  10. beginning of bird unloading (hour: minutes) on a truck basis
  11. bird condition on arrival

3.0 Submission of information to the operator by the producer

Flock sheets are submitted according to the following sequence.

Advance copy

A partially filled "advance" copy is sent 3 to 4 days prior to catching.
Prior to slaughter, the operator may contact the producer and provide him/her with the planned catching time and the planned slaughtering time in order to optimize the feed withdrawal protocol and minimize the contamination during evisceration. At that time, if the advance copy has not been received by the operator, the operator should inform the producer about flock sheet requirement.

Completed copy

The operator must obtain a fully completed copy, including the signed attestation and the electronic signature at the time of loading by the producer or authorised representative before the time of ante-mortem examination of the birds.

When multiple shipments representing the same lot are transported to the same slaughtering establishment, only one flock sheet is required and it should accompany the first load.

When shipments from one lot are to be sent to different slaughtering establishment, each establishment must receive a completed version of the flock sheet. This also applies to "trade-in" shipments.

When barns are not emptied all at the same time and various sections/floors are not submitted to the same feed withdrawal protocol, different flock sheets are filled for each shipment.

If a flock arrives at the slaughtering establishment without a completed flock sheet, the operator must notify CFIA, before proceeding to slaughter. The operator immediately contacts the producer to obtain the missing information. The flock is rescheduled for slaughter pending receipt of the missing information. The licence holder is allowed to slaughter the birds in such situations if he/she either holds the meat product derived from such birds until completed flock sheets are made available or the meat product is identified as inedible.

With respect to live imports of birds, of spent hens or culled breeders from the US, it is required that all the information as per items (1) to (10) is obtained by the operator with each incoming flock.

4.0 Preventive measures for drug residues

Operators are responsible to accept only animals which are free of drug residues that could result in contaminated meat products as per operator's PCP.

4.1 Drug type definitions and associated reference services

Extra label drug use (ELDU):

The use of a drug product in a manner that is not consistent with what is indicated on the label, package insert or product monograph of any drug product approved by HC, e.g. alternate species such as chickens versus cattle (or even chickens versus turkeys) or increased dosage etc.

Note: For the purposes of this section, ELDU will include Off-Label Use of drugs as defined below.

Off-label use

Use of a drug product or drug substance which was never approved by a Canadian regulatory authority. It includes the use of a drug under the emergency drug release (EDR) program or a vaccine under a single entry permit.


Vaccines are also subject to withdrawal times to:

  • ensure freedom from tissue damage and/or drug residues at the injection site
  • avoid residues from preservatives in edible tissue
  • protect humans and/or animals from pathogens in live vaccines

Withdrawal periods for veterinary vaccines, as contained on the product label approved by the Canadian Center for Veterinary biologics (CCVB), Terrestrial Animal Health Division (TAHD), CFIA, must also be reported on the flock sheet. Withdrawal periods for veterinary vaccines may also be obtained at the web sites mentioned below for veterinary drugs. Withdrawal times for vaccines are commonly 21 days or longer.

4.2 Extra label drug use

For flocks treated with extra label drugs, operator must obtain a copy of the veterinary prescription which includes the withdrawal time and accompanying documentation from a competent authority recommending the withdrawal period.

Veterinarians prescribing extra-label use of drugs are responsible for recommending a withdrawal period and may use a scientifically valid resource for withdrawal time information including Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (CgFARAD) or Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians (CAPV) reference table.

This information should be made available with the advance copy of the flock sheet. If flocks are treated with extra-label drugs after the advance copy of the flock sheet has been submitted, the operator obtains a copy of the veterinary prescription and accompanying documents (for example CgFARAD or CAPV reference etc.) prior the shipping the flock.

Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (CgFARAD)

The CgFARAD provides expert-mediated decision support to veterinarians for any inquiry related to drug or chemical residues in food animals. However, the CgFARAD will not give a recommendation of a withdrawal time for drugs without a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A drug must have been registered for use in Canada for humans or at least one animal species to have a DIN.

Veterinarian may obtain a recommendation for a withdrawal interval based on available information contained in the databank by calling the CgFARAD at 1-306-966-2543, by emailing or through the Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank website.

Note: The Canadian gFARAD is a non-profit academic service independent of the CFIA or Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD). Veterinarians should contact CgFARAD well in advance to make sure the required information is available on time.

Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians (CAPV) reference table

Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians compiles CgFARAD recommendations to poultry practitioners on their website

All entries are linked to the most recent CgFARAD original document (from which nominative information has been removed). Maintenance of the Web site and updates of drug withdrawal periods (minimum of once every two years) is the responsibility of CAPV.

4.3 Assessment of medication information on the flock sheets

Operators need to keep an updated PCP system relating to the receiving of live poultry. It must address the hazard of drug residues to be controlled as reflected in information contained on the flock sheets.

Following resources may be available for this assessment:

Operators must provide one or more designated trained employees for reviewing the information on the advance copy of the flock sheets. The operator should advise the Veterinary inspector of the extra label use listing on the flock sheets.

If the advance copy of the flock sheet lists an approved drug, but withdrawal time information is not recorded on the flock sheet, then the operator contacts the producer for the information.

Information recorded on flock sheets related to the use of veterinary drugs is evaluated during ante mortem examination/inspection at the poultry slaughtering establishment using the decision tree contained in the following section.

4.4 Decision tree for assessment of drugs listed on a flock sheet

Question 1: Banned Drug?

If yes = Adulterated. Flocks are to be condemned on ante mortem examination or inspection.
If no = Go to question 2

Question 2:Approved Drug?

If yes= Go to question 3
If no = Go to question 4

Question 3: Was the Drug Used as per the Approved Label?

If yes = Release for slaughter.
If no = Go to question 4

Question 4: Extra label drug - Is there an attached copy of a veterinary prescription?

If yes, and the veterinary prescription Indicates a withdrawal period obtained from the CgFARAD or the CAPV reference table or another scientifically valid source; an emergency drug release (EDR) or a vaccine vial for a vaccine listed on a Single Issue Permit
or Flock tested and attached copy of lab report (see below) indicates compliance with Canadian Maximum residue limit (MRL) or proposed MRL(pMRL) or there was no detectable residue;

Then = Release for slaughter

If no = "Hold and Test".

Flocks treated with the Extra - Label Drugs may be slaughtered subject to a "Hold and Test" regime if they are received at the establishment without a copy of the corresponding veterinary prescription and the documentation on withdrawal period.

The Veterinary inspector, may at any time, for cause, (e.g. based on past compliance of a producer, pathology visible after evisceration, or other information) require a flock to be tested for specified drug residue(s). All associated costs are at the operator's expense.

4.5 Testing live birds/flocks after extra label use of drugs

Producers in consultation with their veterinarians may test flocks treated with extra label drugs in advance of shipping the flock. Such testing is solely a decision of the producer and cannot be mandated by the CFIA. The laboratory report of such tests should be attached to the advance copy of the flock sheet. Such laboratory reports need to meet the following conditions to be acceptable:

Flocks arriving at a slaughtering establishment without adequate assurance of compliance, (as described above) with Canadian requirements for residues of veterinary drugs may be slaughtered subject to "Hold and Test" procedure.

4.5.1 Assessment of laboratory reports

Poultry products are considered to be adulterated if laboratory reports do not indicate compliance with Canadian regulatory requirements for residues of veterinary drugs. Such laboratory reports are referred to the CFIA and may need further food safety hazard evaluation by Health Canada in cases where there is no applicable Canadian MRL or pMRL.

Canadian MRLs and pMRLs for veterinary drugs are listed on Health Canada's website.

5.0 Corrective measures by the operator for missing or incomplete flock sheets

Operators may choose one of the following three options for a flock that arrives at their establishment for slaughter without the requisite completed flock sheet as per the PCP:

Option 1
Slaughter the flock subject to all harvested meat products being disposed of as inedible material or

Option 2
Reschedule the slaughter time and notify the Veterinary inspector with assurances that the missing sheet or information will arrive during the intervening time period or

Option 3
Slaughter the flock subject to the following additional measures to assure control over the chemical and biological hazards for which information is incomplete due to the missing flock sheets:

5.1 Hold and test procedure

Flocks treated with an extra label drug(s) and which arrive at the slaughtering establishment without a copy of a veterinary prescription and the documentation on withdrawal period may be subjected to a "Hold and Test" regime.

The operator segregates and holds all potentially edible product (and decides how to store it - fresh or frozen) pending receipt of test results for the applicable drug or its principal metabolites from a laboratory accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) or equivalent.

Testing and all associated costs are at the operator's expense.

Normally each of the following is collected as a representative sample from the subject lot and each of the following is packaged separately according to instructions from the laboratory:

Product cannot be identified as edible if:

Such residues result in contaminated product under the SFCA and Regulations and as such cannot be identified as edible and are prohibited from sale as human food under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.

Furthermore, the operator conducts an investigation to determine how and why the flock arrived at the establishment without a fully completed flock sheet as per PCP. A report is provided to the Veterinary inspector that includes follow-up actions taken to avoid any recurrence.

6.0 Post mortem data

At the establishment level, all information collected at post-mortem for example condemnation history is available to the Veterinary inspector.

7.0 Records retention period

The operator must keep for a minimum of one (1) year the records relating to the flock sheets and the resulting post mortem records for on-site review by the CFIA Staff.

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