CanadaGAP Will Phase Out Certification for Aquaponic Operations in 2020

Although it states research is limited, they’re pulling certification? Antibiotics?

That’s quite a bold move. Do you have access to the research they’re quoting?

Is this the only Food Safety certification company in Canada or just one of the big ones?

I got in touch with them and got the info:

Our review of the limited research available emphasizes one point: that more research is needed to fully understand how chemical contamination can occur in aquaponics production. Some of the available research includes:

  • Uptake of hormones (i.e. steroid hormones) has been recorded in plants grown under hydroponic conditions but further studies are needed as most of the research focused on antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals (Madikizela et al., 2018).

  • A study was done under hydroponic conditions that found that antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals can be taken up by the plant and stored within the edible portions of the plant (Herklotz et al., 2010). So if antibiotics are being used in aquaponics, it could make there way into the plants.

  • Riggio et al., 2019 conducted a review of research studies to highlight the risks of human pathogen internalization in leafy vegetables grown hydroponically in the context of food safety (though they did also include some aquaponic based studies). The review concluded that human pathogens-both viruses and bacteria-can internalize in leafy greens grown hydroponically.

  • Yep and Zheng, 2019 also did a thorough literature review and noted concerns about safety as a result of crops being produced in close proximity to fish and waste products. They also noted the need for further research to answer the many outstanding questions.

  • Research on aquaponics has also been done by the University of Alberta and University of Hawaii. Most of this research identifies the need for further studies on potential sources of cross-contamination in an aquaponics setting.

There was no specific incident that prompted our decision to discontinue coverage of aquaponics within the CanadaGAP program. We are continually monitoring the science and a number of studies have been recently published that raise new concerns about the potential for internalization and possible avenues for chemical contamination. There are no specific aquaponic systems that are highlighted (as yet) in the research as representing a greater risk than others. Perhaps that is an area of further study as well. Antibiotics is probably the main concern from a chemical perspective, but there may be other sources of contamination such as hormones (if used). I wish we had more answers and guidance for you – but the absence of information is one of the reasons that we are hesitant to claim that the controls in our program will continue to adequately address the potential hazards, until more research is conducted.

Thanks for sharing this info.

This is great info thanks for sharing. Sounds like they’re mostly a little nervous and need more research for specific topics. I am wondering how much of their concerns can be met with a solid audit trail of inputs and a good farm management/crop handling policy.

Just curious about @JohnP’s question, are there other food safety cert companies in Canada? How large is this one in relation to the others?