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Regulation of Novel Feeds

Are you:

  • A developer of a novel feed (university, company, or research institution)
  • A researcher conducting feeding trials
  • An importer/marketer of novel feeds
  • A marketer of by-products that are novel feeds

Under the authority of the federal Feeds Act and Regulations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) administers a national livestock feed program to verify that livestock feeds manufactured and sold in Canada or imported into Canada are safe and effective. Safe and effective feeds contribute to the production and maintenance of healthy, productive livestock and safe animal products for consumers.

Feeds are any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use for consumption by livestock. Only approved ingredients may be used as livestock feed. The list of approved ingredients can be found in Schedules IV and V of the Feeds Regulations. Included in the definition of feed are "novel feeds".

What is a novel feed?

Novel feeds are feeds derived from plants, micro-organisms or animals, and their products or byproducts that:

  • have not been previously approved as livestock feed in Canada. These include non-traditional feed sources (e.g., orchids, papaya), feeds used or approved in other countries and products approved for other uses in Canada; or
  • are listed in the Feeds Regulations but contain a novel trait that has been intentionally selected, created or introduced into the feed through a specific genetic change, that based on valid scientific rationale is not substantially equivalent in terms of its specific use and safety both for the environment and for human and animal health, to any characteristic of a similar feed that is set out in Schedule IV and V of the Feeds Regulations.

Novel feeds may be created by such methods as traditional breeding, mutagenesis, cell fusion, or recombinant DNA techniques. Novel feeds include microbial products (both viable and non-viable), forage/silage inoculants, fermentation products, plants with novel traits, and plants with no history of use as feed.

How do I know if my product is novel?

Consult Schedules IV and V of the Feeds Regulations. If the feed is not listed in the Schedules, then it is novel.

For those feeds listed in Schedules IV and V, determine if the plant/micro-organism/animal has a novel trait. Substantive changes in agronomic, nutritional and compositional characteristic(s) that are outside the accepted variation for a given species, based on Canadian experience, are novel.

For assistance in the determination of novelty, consult with the Feed Section, CFIA.

Are novel feeds regulated?

Yes. Prior to their use in livestock feed in Canada all novel feeds must be authorized. The authorization is based on a safety assessment done by the CFIA's Feed Section, which includes an evaluation of animal, environmental and human safety (exposure through occupation and through food produced from animals, e.g., meat, milk and eggs).

Authorization is required from the Feed Section:

  • prior to feeding trials at research and development stages; and
  • prior to use/commercialization (release).

What do I need to know and do?

You must obtain authorization for release prior to conducting feeding trials and prior to use as feed. You must collect and submit data for a safety assessment. Data required will include identification and characterization of the novel trait and the novel feed; please refer to the regulatory directives listed at the end of this brochure. You need to keep up to date on regulatory or policy revisions, in particular those being developed, to adapt to the future of novel feeds, including products of "molecular farming".

What are the future challenges?

Microorganisms, plants and animals have always provided humans and livestock with fibre, food, feed and more. This may be expanded through molecular farming and biotechnology derived animals.

  • Molecular farming is the use of organisms for industrially, medically or scientifically useful biomolecules. Through molecular farming, microorganisms, plants and animals could be modified to produce products such as vaccines, antibodies, pharmaceuticals, or enzymes.
  • Biotechnology derived animals (e.g. cloned, transgenic animals) could be produced for improved production traits, or environmental benefits.

While these products might not be intended for the feed market, microorganisms, animal and plants by-products are typically destined for feed. Products and by-products of molecular farming and biotechnology derived animals that could be expected to enter the feed chain will be subject to regulation as novel feeds by the Feed Section.

For more information on the regulation of novel feeds: