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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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Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Files Legal Complaint Against Maple Lodge Farms for False Advertising Following Chicken Cruelty Exposé

Animal Justice April 8, 2015

MLF Graphic 1TORONTO – Animal Justice Canada Legislative Fund—a national non-profit animal law organization—has filed a formal legal complaint against Maple Lodge Farms, citing violations of federal consumer protection laws.

The complaint follows a hidden-camera investigation revealing disturbing and potentially illegal treatment of chickens under the care of Maple Lodge.

Through numerous written claims, Maple Lodge advertises itself as family farmers deeply committed to the “humane and respectful” treatment of chickens, stating that it complies with industry codes of practice. It also uses visual imagery of outdoor pasture and small-scale farming.

In reality, the treatment of chickens at Maple Lodge has been called “unconscionable,” “inexcusable,” and “abhorrent” by animal welfare experts. Maple Lodge operates no farms, and the half-million chickens it slaughters each working day will virtually never have seen the light of day. It was convicted of 20 animal cruelty charges in 2013 and is currently on probation, and since its convictions has been issued at least 14 additional fines for animal cruelty violations.

Federal law prohibits making “false and misleading” claims in advertising. The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Food and Drug Regulations are designed to protect consumers from being deceived, while the Competition Act also ensures the fair and efficient functioning of a competitive marketplace.

This is the first major consumer protection complaint in Canada against a meat producer for misleading humane claims. Meanwhile, similar complaints in countries like the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have led to a crackdown on claims made by the agricultural industry, resulting in huge court fines and industry reform.

“By secretly cutting corners on animal welfare, Maple Lodge gains an enormous financial benefit,” said Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “Maple Lodge’s false and misleading advertising practices dupe consumers into purchasing what they believe to be humanely produced products, when the evidence clearly establishes that these chickens have suffered egregiously. Moreover, Maple Lodge’s false and misleading claims prevent the functioning of a competitive marketplace, by unfairly allowing Maple Lodge to undercut vegetarian meat alternatives, which many consumers select out of ethical concerns for animals.”

In 2014, the enormously popular vegetarian meat alternatives company Field Roast was prohibited from selling its products in Canada based on technical, outdated provisions of the very same statute—the Food and Drug Regulations—of which Maple Lodge appears to be in current violation.

“If vegetarian company Field Roast is prevented from selling its products for minor labelling technicalities, the same statute should be equally applied to Maple Lodge, whose false and misleading advertising practices are of a far more material and deceptive nature.”

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Media Contact:
Anna Pippus, J.D.
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
APippus@AnimalJustice.ca
1-604-338-0806

To download the legal complaint, click here.

To view the undercover footage from Maple Lodge, please visit: www.MapleLodgeHarms.ca.

Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Statement on Chicken Cruelty Exposed on National TV

Animal Justice March 29, 2015

maple lodgeTORONTO – On Saturday evening, CTV’s W5 aired disturbing undercover footage of chickens being abused, apparently in violation of federal and provincial law. The footage was shot at one of Canada’s largest slaughterhouses, owned by Maple Lodge Farms.

Maple Lodge Farms is currently on probation following convictions in 2013 for 20 counts of animal cruelty offences under the federal Health of Animals Act. Moreover, in the first three quarters of 2014—the year following its conviction—it was fined for 14 separate animal welfare violations, significantly more than any other company in Canada.

Animal Justice Canada, a national charity that works to encourage enforcement of animal protection laws to prevent animals from abuse and killing, is now calling for charges against Maple Lodge Farms.

“Federal humane handling policy prohibits throwing and dropping crates of live chickens, shackling sick and injured birds for slaughter, negligently sending live animals through industrial washing machines, and allowing animals to dangle by one leg through the slaughter process,” said Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice.

“Maple Lodge Farms should be held accountable for its pattern of unlawfully putting profits ahead of animal welfare. Canadians expect our government to rigorously enforce the animal protection laws that have been democratically enacted in this country.”

“When we use animals for food, our minimum legal and moral obligations are to prevent egregious animal suffering. Chickens are no different from our beloved cats and dogs in their capacity to experience fear and pain, and they are no less deserving of, or legally entitled to, protection.”

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Media Contact:
Anna Pippus, J.D.
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
APippus@AnimalJustice.ca
1-604-338-0806

To view the undercover footage, please visit: www.MapleLodgeHarms.ca.

Animal Justice

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