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Canadians killed more than 771 million land animals for food in 2016

Animal Justice May 10, 2017

Slaughter report from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada show we killed 771,625,940 land animals for food in 2016—up from 750 million farmed animals killed the previous year. The growth is mostly because more chickens than ever are being killed for meat.

Here are the numbers broken down by sector:

Meat chickens: 681,913,737
Egg-laying hens and broiler breeders: 37,877,047
Turkeys: 21,732,157
Pigs: 21,261,873
Adult cows: 2,802,568
Calves: 236,858
Horses: 53,763
Sheeps and Lambs: 552,800
Goats: 57,118
Bisons: 11,568
Rabbits: 621,431
Ducks/geese: 5,057,820

These numbers don’t even include aquatic animals, which the government only tracks by weight.

It also doesn’t include thousands of deers, elks, and wild boars killed in Canadian slaughterhouses for which 2016 numbers are not available.

These death statistics also don’t include the millions of male chicks killed at birth in the egg industry, the animals killed on farms by unconscionable euthanasia methods, and the animals who suffered to death before even reaching the slaughterhouse.

 

Animal Justice

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New Farmed Animal Slaughter Rules Proposed – Have Your Say

Animal Justice April 18, 2017

As part of a food safety modernization initiative, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is overhauling our decades-old slaughter regulations.

Though it’s unsurprising that the focus of the new food safety regulations is food safety, it’s concerning that the welfare of the 750 million land animals we kill for food each year in Canada reads more like a footnote than an integral aspect of the regulatory scheme.

In fact, the entire preamble that introduces the new rules (over 22 thousand words) discusses only food safety and economics. There’s not a single reference to animal welfare.

Although suspending conscious animals will be banned under the new rules, an exception is made for birds—including chickens and turkeys—even though these animals are the vast majority of the ones we kill for food (97 percent). Conscious chickens and turkeys will continue to be shackled upside-down before their heads are dragged through an electrified vat of water.

It’s not because these animals don’t suffer when hung upside down, their legs yanked into wedge-shaped metal shackles—they do. And it’s not because less cruel methods aren’t available—they are. Rather, it’s because the priority in drafting new farmed animal rules is industry convenience instead of animal welfare.

The new rules also don’t address the serious problem of too many of animals being improperly stunned on fast moving slaughter lines. In practice, this margin of error means that animals are routinely drowned, scalded, or skinned alive.

Aquatic animals are entirely excluded from the rules, meaning not a single piece of legislation regulates the welfare of fishes at slaughter, despite a growing body of science showing these animals are conscious and experience pain and fear. By contrast, in the European Union, fishes too are covered by the general rule that prohibits inflicting excessive pain and distress at slaughter.

Like their predecessors, the new rules require animals to be unconscious before having their throats cut, but allow an exemption for ritual slaughter. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association—as well as most transnational veterinary and animal welfare groups—opposes this non-stun slaughter for inflicting additional pain and fear onto animals.

The new rules continue to permit electric prods. Covertly obtained footage has shown not only that these cruel devices are used to force injured and ill animals to walk, but that government inspectors have been present for such reprehensible conduct and failed to act.

Government inspectors aren’t even required to always be on-site. When violations occur there’s a good chance nobody will be there to enforce the law anyway. The EU deals with the economic and practical difficulty of always having government inspectors present by requiring slaughterhouses to appoint Animal Welfare Officers on their own dime to implement animal welfare measures.

As part of a worrying trend away from measurable regulations, the new rules are filled with vague terms like “sufficient space,” “avoidable injury,” and “sufficient ventilation.” These amorphous terms—termed “outcomes-based measures”—tend to be under-enforced to animals’ detriment. In the European Union, quantifiable and well-defined standards delineate clear regulatory boundaries.

Updated labelling rules make it more explicit that the government’s priority is monitoring packaging quantities and ingredients. So-called values claims, such as “free range” and “grass fed,” will be left to industry to define—even if it misleads consumers.

When it comes to food safety, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency demonstrates that it’s capable of creating rigorous standards—for instance, chewing gum is prohibited in any food packaging or animal slaughtering facility because evidently it risks contaminating food. Yet, the new slaughter rules lump living animals together with inanimate food items, sidelining even their most fundamental interests to the most trivial of ours.

There is a growing awareness that animals—including farmed animals—are sentient individuals with rich emotional lives. Fortunately, it’s not too late to demand better for these animals from the regulator. The public is invited to submit comments on the draft rules until April 21st, 2017 to CFIA-Modernisation-ACIA@inspection.gc.ca.

Animal Justice

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The CFIA Wants to Make It Easier to Mislead Consumers About Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

Animal Justice February 24, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is overhauling food labelling regulations, which include animal welfare claims on meat, dairy, and egg packaging like “free range” and “grass fed.” But instead of cracking down on the epidemic of false animal welfare claims, the government plans to weaken regulations and introduce new loopholes.

The CFIA wants to make animal welfare and related “consumer values” claims its lowest enforcement priority. In other words, the agency won’t proactively define and regulate claims about how farmed animals are treated, and may not even bother investigating companies for blatantly false animal welfare claims.

Instead, the CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to contact companies themselves to find out what their animal welfare claims mean. According to the CFIA, industry has a “legal and ethical responsibility” to ensure labelling claims are not misleading. But consumers have no way of verifying information provided by companies, which stand to benefit financially from misleading consumers.

If consumers are concerned about false labelling claims made by companies, the CFIA is proposing that consumers make their complaints directly to the companies themselves. In other words, if a company’s packaging uses misleading imagery or language, consumers have to first complain to the company. The CFIA will only pay attention to a consumer complaint if a company has provided an insufficient response, and will only investigate once multiple complaints are received.

cfia labelling

The CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to monitor and verify animal welfare claims.

Animal farming is notoriously secretive. It takes place on private property in windowless facilities, with virtually no government oversight. Consumers have no ability to monitor these industries ourselves, which is why we expect our government to step in and protect consumers from being duped by false claims.

Labelling is a crucial component of informed consumer choices. Consumers should be able to rely on the words and images used on labels being accurate and truthful. And in fact, polling shows 82 percent of consumers want clearer animal welfare labelling.

Previous work by Animal Justice has highlighted an epidemic of false animal welfare claims, misinformed consumers, and a nonexistent government response. We’ve filed consumer protection complaints against slaughterhouse Maple Lodge Farms for claiming to treat chickens humanely even while on probation for illegal animal cruelty; against supermarket chain Safeway for marketing chicken meat as “certified humane,” even though birds are crowded in dark barns and deprived of anything that makes life worth living; and against the Dairy Farmers of Canada for running deceptive dairy ads disguised as public health announcements.

Meanwhile, the European Union understands the importance of addressing animal welfare labelling, recognizing that if consumers lack information, “there is very little motivation for more producers to improve animal welfare and market their products accordingly.”

It’s not too late to tell the CFIA to monitor animal welfare labelling claims! Here’s what to do: Simply go to their online survey before March 15. Skip ahead to “Stream 2,” which is 88% of the way through the survey.

For Question 2, select “no.”

For Question 2i), explain that animal farming lacks transparency and government must ensure consumers are able to make informed choices.

For Question 2ii), explain that welfare claims must be regulated, and they must be the responsibility of government (not industry and consumers).

If you’re pressed for time, you could also simply fill in our petition here.

Thank you for taking action for animals.

Image: Egg-laying hens inside a “cage-free” farm, courtesy Direct Action Everywhere.

Animal Justice

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