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CFIA Cracks Down on Meat Cut Mislabelling, But Ignores Animal Suffering

Animal Justice October 17, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) just fined a meat company $200,000 for five counts of false labelling. The fine was imposed after Eastern Meat Solutions was busted for packaging beef products as prime rib, Angus, and sirloin—when they were not.

This fine is part of a larger, worrying trend by Canada’s food industry regulator: The CFIA prioritizes enforcement when business interests are affected, but neglects enforcement when animal suffering is at stake.

Animal Justice works to expose the epidemic of false animal welfare claims by companies doing business in Canada, along with countless duped consumers, and a nonexistent government response. We filed consumer protection complaints against slaughterhouse Maple Lodge Farms for claiming to treat chickens humanely even while on probation for illegal animal cruelty. We went after supermarket chain Safeway for marketing chicken meat as “certified humane,” even though genetically manipulated birds are crowded in dark warehouses and deprived of everything that makes life worth living. And we caught the Dairy Farmers of Canada red-handed for running deceptive dairy ads disguised as public health announcements. Despite this long list of violations, the CFIA has refused to prosecute or fine companies for false animal welfare claims.

Earlier this year, we told you that the CFIA is overhauling food labelling regulations. One planned change is that it will be easier for food companies to mislead consumers about animal welfare claims like “free range” and “grass fed.” The CFIA plans to make animal welfare claims its lowest enforcement priority, encouraging consumers to take their questions and concerns to the food companies rather than law enforcement. But consumers have no way to verify claims made by companies, which stand to benefit financially from misleading consumers.

But labelling isn’t the CFIA’s only problem—it routinely underenforces animal transport regulations, too. Meat and egg companies often truck animals long distances in freezing cold or blistering hot weather—illegally allowing animals to suffer to death from weather exposure, lack of ventilation, or crowding. Yet transporters typically only face a measly few thousand dollars in fines for these violations—even when an offender has already racked up dozens of prior offences.

Food fraud is wrong, and meat companies should be held accountable for misleading consumers about product quality. But animal suffering is far more troubling, especially when companies lie to consumers about it so they support it financially. In these cases, the animal victims endure physical and emotional agony—not just a lower-quality meal.

If you agree that the life-and-death treatment of sentient animals is more important than the quality of someone’s steak dinner, please write to federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAuley: lawrence.macaulay@parl.gc.ca. He needs to hear that the CFIA’s enforcement priorities do not represent the values of caring Canadians.

 

 

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Here’s Why Thanksgiving is a Nightmare for Turkeys

Animal Justice October 9, 2017

On Thanksgiving, many Canadians give thanks for the wonderful things in our lives, including friends, family, and health.

But turkeys killed and eaten for Thanksgiving dinner have nothing to be thankful for. Raised in appalling conditions on Canada’s industrial turkey facilities and shipped to slaughter, their lives are bleak and filled with suffering.

Turkeys are curious, friendly, and sensitive birds with big personalities. But in Canada, 20 million turkeys are killed for food every year—many of them destined for Thanksgiving meals.

Undercover footage has exposed brutal conditions, abusive transport, and botched killing in the turkey industry. In one exposé of a Kitchener, Ontario turkey farm, workers were seen punching, throwing, and kicking birds, hitting them with metal rods and shovels, and crushing their spines.

And footage from a turkey slaughterhouse in Abbotsford, British Columbia shows painful, botched killings. Multiple turkeys are improperly stunned, thus fully conscious when their throats were slit with a metal blade. Many birds missed the blade, and were then dragged vats full of boiling water to remove their feathers. This killing process is standard in the turkey industry.

Earlier this year, Animal Justice filed a legal complaint with authorities after a witness documented bleeding and injured birds bring trucked to slaughter. Turkeys can be shipped in open-sided vehicles, exposed to blistering heat and frigid cold, for up to 36 hours—all without food, water, or rest. Canada’s weak transport laws are infrequently enforced.

 

Disturbingly, there are no federal regulations protecting turkeys and other farmed animals from horrific suffering while on farms. Please join Animal Justice in asking the federal government to regulate on-farm conditions for animals, and help spread compassion for turkeys by sharing this post!

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One Year Later, No Justice for Victims of Burlington Pig Truck Rollover

Animal Justice October 6, 2017

This week marks a gruesome anniversary: One year ago, a truck carrying 180 pigs to slaughter rolled over outside the notorious Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario. Dozens of baby pigs died in the horrific crash.

For animal advocates on the scene, it will always be impossible to forget the brutal suffering they witnessed. Some pigs died immediately, some suffered traumatic injuries, and others staggered around, dazed and in pain. Pigs were left to suffer for hours in the sun without medical attention.

While witnesses documented the carnage and made phone calls to animal welfare authorities pleading for assistance, the slaughterhouse showed no mercy. It put up barriers in a desperate attempt to conceal the scene from public view.

Bystanders pleaded with the slaughterhouse, asking to rescue some of the victims and bring them to a sanctuary. But workers ignored them and instead forced injured and escaped pigs to walk to their own death in the gas chambers of the plant. One video shows pigs being hit with paddles.

One of the pigs, unable to move, was shot in the head with a captive bolt pistol in front of traumatized witnesses.

After the incident, Animal Justice filed a legal complaint with authorities and demanded prosecution for clear violations of the Criminal Code, provincial animal protection laws, and federal transport laws. Thousands of people signed petitions calling for charges to be laid, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Ontario SPCA both failed to prosecute.

Instead, the police charged the driver with careless driving—essentially, a traffic ticket. One year later, there has been no justice for the young pigs who experienced appalling suffering at the hands of the meat industry. Their pain and deaths have escaped the scrutiny of the legal system.

Canada still has no federal regulations for the on-farm treatment of farmed animals, and a recent proposal to update archaic federal animal transport laws is deeply flawed. Meanwhile, the rules that do exist are seldom enforced.

Please take action today to ask the government to take animal protection seriously and improve Canada’s outdated transport laws.

 

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Photo: Julie O’Neill

Animal Justice

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