Today, Mississauga-based Maple Leaf Foods, the largest meat company in Canada, announced its commitment to improving animal welfare by issuing new guidelines for its pork and poultry facilities.
Citing the "five freedoms," a set of ethical imperatives for farmed animal welfare, Maple Leaf Foods Commitment to Animal Care states that the company will advocate for improved federal animal transportation regulations, mandate annual independent auditing, and implement video monitoring to deter future animal abuse.
The policy also pledges to develop a three-year animal care strategy addressing environmental enrichment, natural lighting, air quality, and pain mitigation for birds. However, most notable is the policy's pioneering commitment to implementing Controlled Atmosphere Stunning at all fresh poultry facilities—a move that will spare millions of birds from the horrific suffering caused by shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals.
For pigs, the policy reaffirms the company's commitment to eliminating gestation crates at company-owned facilities, converting to group housing for a minimum of 37,000 sows by 2017. It also commits to improving pain management during castration and tail docking of piglets and to seeking alternatives to those incredibly painful mutilations.
The following statement is attributed to Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals:
Mercy For Animals praises Maple Leaf Foods for stepping up to the plate to improve the lives of farmed animals. This is a historic and game-changing policy that promises to reduce the suffering of millions of animals. We hope that Maple Leaf Foods' new industry-leading policy will inspire other food providers to implement and enforce similar animal welfare requirements.
While there is still work to be done, Maple Leaf Foods' new policy represents one of the most sweeping animal welfare policies ever adopted by a meat producer. We encourage the rest of the food industry to follow Maple Leaf Foods' lead in prohibiting the cruel confinement of animals in cages barely larger than their bodies, mutilations without painkillers, and other inhumane practices.
As the largest meat company in Canada, Maple Leaf Foods is setting the bar for producers in Canada and abroad—and making it clearer than ever that the days are numbered for the factory farming industry's cruelest practices. It's now time for Maple Lodge Farms and others to stop dragging their feet and use their power and influence to reduce the needless pain and suffering animals endure on factory farms.
The policy follows disturbing undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals at Horizon Poultry, a Maple Leaf Foods-owned hatchery, and Hybrid Turkeys, the world's largest primary turkey breeder and a supplier to Maple Leaf Foods.
Hidden-camera footage taken at Horizon revealed chicks ground alive in macerators while secret video captured at Hybrid showed workers punching, throwing, and kicking turkeys, among other egregious abuses. Following that investigation, Hybrid was convicted of animal cruelty and fined $5,600—marking the first time a Canadian farm had been found guilty of animal cruelty based on video obtained by an animal protection group.
View MFA's undercover video at Horizon Poultry: CanadaHatchery.MercyForAnimals.org.
View MFA's undercover video at Hybrid Turkeys: TurkeyTorture.ca.
SOURCE Mercy For Animals Canada
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