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Canadians Just Forced the Government to Address Animal Welfare in Slaughter Laws

Animal Justice January 15, 2018

Last year, we told you that the federal government is overhauling Canada’s decades-old slaughter regulations as part of a food safety modernization initiative. We told you that in the entire introduction to the update (over 22,000 words), animal protection wasn’t even mentioned once.

We explained the many ways that the proposed slaughter rules would permit inhumane treatment of animals. We submitted a detailed critique to the government, and mobilized you, our supporters, to do the same.

We’re pleased to tell you that the government has heard us. In the recently issued ‘What We Heard Report‘, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) identified a lack of attention to animal welfare as a key theme that emerged from the public consultation period.

According to the CFIA, 1717 written submissions were received, many of which “supported further strengthening the proposed animal welfare requirements, including a petition signed by Canadians in support of recommendations for more humane treatment of animals.”

In particular, “more precise training protocols, and specific and stronger language were requested for the humane treatment of animals prior to, and during, slaughter.” The CFIA will now revisit the draft regulations, taking this feedback into account.

Our specific criticisms of the draft slaughter regulations were:

  • live-hanging of birds (who represent 97 percent of animals killed for food in Canada) is still allowed, even though this method is known to cause horrific pain and fear to the sensitive creatures.
  • they fail to address the well-documented margin of error on fast-moving slaughter lines—many animals are improperly stunned and drowned, scalded, or skinned alive.
  • sentient aquatic animals like fishes, crustaceans, and octopuses are entirely excluded from slaughter rules.
  • non-stun (ritual) slaughter continues to be permitted, even though it’s opposed by veterinary and animal welfare organizations around the world.
  • cruel electric prods continue to be permitted.
  • government inspectors aren’t required to always be on-site during slaughter.
  • the proposed rules use are difficult to enforce due to vague wording. For example, instead of setting out exactly how much space each animal should have, they simply require animals to have “sufficient space.”
  • the agriculture industry will be allowed to define values claims such as “free range,” even though these marketing terms are deliberately used to mislead consumers.

Thank you to the countless compassionate animal advocates who spoke up! Sometimes it can feel discouraging to fight against the billion-dollar animal agriculture industry, which has the ear of government officials and often gets its way. But we have justice and compassion on our side, and together, we are making a difference for animals. Our voices are starting to be heard, and those voices will only get louder in the years to come—all thanks to you.

We’ll keep you updated on the next steps in forcing the government to take animal protection seriously in its regulatory updates. 

To help, please sign up to our mailing list and stay tuned for ways to get involved.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur /Djurrattsalliansen

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Have Your Say: Government Developing Food Policy for Canada

Animal Justice July 12, 2017

The federal government is developing Canada first-ever food policy! A national food policy would address the entire food cycle—from the moment seeds are planted, until the food is prepared and eaten. The policy will set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions Canada can take in the short-term. The government’s stated goals are to:

  1. increase access to affordable food;
  2. improve health and food safety
  3. conserve our soil, water and air; and
  4. grow more high-quality food.

The government wants to hear from you before July 27, 2017! This is an incredible opportunity to speak up against unsustainable animal agriculture, encourage the growth of healthful plant crops, and push for improved access to plant-based foods.

Have your say! Visit the consultation website to take the survey. Here are some key points that you may wish to include:

Are there any objectives missing?

There are major current and emerging market opportunities in plant-based and cultured meat, dairy, and eggs. Plant-based replacements for these animal foods are more environmentally sustainable, better for personal health, better for public health (less food-borne illness, pandemic risk, and antibiotic resistance), and better for the animals, who endure intensive confinement conditions under the current system.

Conserving soil, water, and air

Research from internationally respected think tank Chatham House has found that reducing global meat consumption is essential if we are to keep global warming below the “danger level” of two degrees Celsius. Moreover, the public believes it is the responsibility of government to spearhead efforts to address unsustainable consumption of meat.

Affordable food

Plant-based sources of protein are significantly cheaper than animal flesh. At a Canadian grocery store recently, extra lean ground beef was more than five times more expensive than tofu, chickpeas, or red lentils.

The government should develop policies to encourage consumption of healthful, sustainable, and affordable pulses (i.e., beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas). The government should also ensure healthful fruits and vegetables are affordable and accessible to all, and focus on increasing their consumption.

Improving health and food safety

In 2016, Canadians consumed per capita 95.06 kg (209.57 lbs) of animal flesh and 19.93 dozen eggs—far exceeding global averages. Health Canada recommends Canadians eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, with a focus on plant-based sources of protein. When it comes to food safety, animal farming contributes to antibiotic resistance, food-borne illness, and pandemics.

For our full comments, please see: Animal Justice’s Food Policy for Canada Submission.

 

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Animal Justice

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Got (Soy) Milk? European Court Bans ‘Milk’ Labels on Dairy-Free Products

Animal Justice June 16, 2017

Plant-based food companies can no longer use terms like ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ to describe their products, according a ruling by European Court of Justice released this week.

The case was sparked by a complaint against German company TofuTown, which sells dairy-free products like ‘tofu butter’ and ‘rice spray cream’. According to the Court, terms like ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘yogurt’, and ‘cheese’ are exclusively reserved for animal-derived dairy products.

This isn’t the first time the dairy, egg, and meat industries have tried to shut down plant-based competitors, and it won’t be the last. As consumers learn more about the horrific animal cruelty that pervades the farming industry, they are increasingly seeking out vegan versions of traditional meat, dairy, and egg products. The market share of plant-based products has risen dramatically in recent years, and so to have the animal product industry’s efforts to undermine and injure plant-based companies.

Many Canadians will remember when meat-free sausage company Field Roast was forced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to temporarily halt Canadian distribution of its plant-based meat products. Field Roast sausages were labelled ‘vegetarian grain meat,’ but the CFIA told the company that it could no longer use this label without reformulating its product to have an identical nutritional profile to animal-based sausage. After a long absence, Field Roast came back into Canada with new labels stating ‘simulated sausage’ and ‘contains no meat’.

In another famous food war, U.S. mayonnaise company Hellman’s sued plant-based company Hampton Creek over its popular egg-free mayonnaise, Just Mayo. Hellman’s claimed the term ‘mayo’ could only be used for egg-based mayonnaise, but later backed down after a flood of public outrage. Hellman’s now sells its own brand of vegan mayonnaise in stores across North America.

Meanwhile, U.S. members of congress are pushing a bill that would restrict the use of the word ‘milk’ to dairy products from hooved animals.

But restrictive labelling laws won’t be enough to stop the rise of plant-based milks. The CFIA already restricts use of the word ‘milk’ in Canada, yet dairy consumption is still dropping steadily. According to Statistics Canada, per capita milk consumption has fallen by 21.5% per capita since 2009. The industry suffered losses of $25 million in 2015 alone.

Meanwhile, according to Nielson Home Scan Data 2016, Canadian sales of almond milk tripled in just two years.

Some traditional meat and dairy companies have acknowledged the trend, and are jumping in on this economic opportunity.

Dairy company WhiteWave owns Silk, the popular plant-based milk brand. The largest meat processor in the US, Tyson Foods, recently invested in Beyond Meat, a vegan company that produces a veggie burger that “bleeds” plant blood. Ben and Jerry’s recently jumped on the bandwagon with seven new coconut-based ice cream flavours, and Bailey’s now sells an almond milk version of its iconic creamy liqueur.

Thanks to powerful forces like social media, the disturbing truth about cruelty in animal agriculture is no longer an industry secret. The public is becoming increasingly aware of the animal suffering, environmental impact, and health risks caused by consuming these products. The growth of the plant-based food sector is fuelled by increased consumer concern, and that won’t go away anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Justice

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