Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Canadian standards for farm-animal transport dangerously lax, report says
June 2, 2010 Gloria Galloway - Globe and Mail
Poultry workers opened the doors of a chicken truck at a Toronto slaughterhouse in December, 2008, to find that nearly 1,500 birds had frozen to death in sub-zero temperatures during their final journey from the farm.
At about the same time, 16 neglected horses – animals so emaciated they had not developed winter coats – were sent to a meat factory in Lacombe, Alta., in an unheated truck as the thermometer dipped to minus 12 C. Government inspectors who witnessed their arrival took note of the incident but let the transport company off with a simple warning.
Those and other anecdotes are included in a report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to be released later this week that looks at the conditions in which animals intended for Canadian dinner plates are transported – often for the last time.
The study, which was based on inspection reports filed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) between Oct. 9, 2008, and Jan. 9, 2009, was initiated in response to the listeriosis crisis of 2008 that killed 22 people. It finds that Canadian standards for the transport of animals are significantly weaker than those of other jurisdictions, including Europe and the United States.
Under CFIA policy, an inspection is warranted if 1 per cent of a shipment of broiler chickens arrives dead, whereas the U.S. threshold is 0.5 per cent. The report also found that the CFIA standards are not strenuously enforced.
“A lot of MPs were asking how many meat inspectors were hired during the listeriosis outbreak and it started to get us questioning how many animal inspectors are there,” Melissa Matlow, the report’s lead author, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. It’s an important question, “not only from an animal welfare perspective, which is what our organization cares the most about, but from a food-safety perspective.”
In fact, much evidence suggests that food-borne illnesses are readily transmitted among animals that are crammed into trucks and train cars.
“When the animals are packed more closely, the opportunity for bacteria to pass from one animal to another is obviously increased,” said Carlton Gyles, who studies animal-borne diseases at the University of Guelph. “There have been studies looking at things like salmonella that can be passed by animals during transportation. So that could increase the chances of contamination of meat.”
Canadians also want to know that the meat they eat comes from animals that did not suffer unduly, Ms. Matlow said. Statistics that the animal rights organization obtained from CFIA indicate that two million to three million animals die during transport every year and another 11 million arrive at their destination diseased or injured.
“We have to ask the question, how many of these animals [that die in transit] are ending up on people’s dinner plates?” Ms. Matlow said. “If there is only one inspector for every two million animals slaughtered for food every year in this country, how can they possibly ensure this isn’t happening?”
CIFA says its inspectors see the animals both before and after slaughter and they would move quickly to shut down a plant that attempted to process animals that were dead on arrival – which is strictly prohibited by federal regulations. But they also admit they cannot be in every meat plant at all times.
The greatest animal suffering observed in the study occurred on long journeys – especially in freezing weather. Canadian cows can be in transit for 52 hours without food, water and a rest break. In Europe, the standard is 12 hours.
Geoff Urton, the farm animal welfare co-ordinator at the British Columbia SPCA, said Canada’s regulations are more than 30 years old and need to be updated. “There is really good evidence that the current standards are not adequate to actually protect the animals,” said Mr. Urton.
Paul Mayers, the associate vice-president of programs at the CFIA, said his agency is preparing to rewrite the rules on animal transport. But he said the changes will be less about setting time limits for transportation than an overall effort to keep animals healthy. “What we’re talking about,” Mr. Mayers said, “is achieving the outcome in relation to the individual species as opposed to arbitrary time limits, focusing instead on the animal itself.”
As for the fact that many transporters who break the rules get off with a warning, he said the CFIA uses a graduated approach to enforcement, leaving prosecution – in most cases – for repeat violators. Transporters and the slaughterhouses rely on animals for their income, Mr. Mayers said. “So we certainly see that the vast majority of Canadian producers and transporters are strongly committed to treating animals
WSPA Report: Curb the Cruelty: Canada’s farm animal transport system in need of repair
Every year, more than 700 million animals are slaughtered in Canada for food. But before that, they travel. They endure grueling journeys, often over long distances, from farms to auctions and feedlots, across borders... and finally to slaughterhouses.
Canada has regulations to ensure that the animals are transported humanely, but upon reviewing CFIA's inspection reports, we found that many, many animals are needlessly suffering and dying during transport in Canada.
It is WSPA's opinion that federal regulations are being violated and penalties are not being issued. In a single year, as many as 2-3 million animals die before they even make it to the slaughterhouse. Some die in squelching heat or freezing temperatures; others die from their injuries - the result of harsh transport conditions or rough handling. Some animals are left to suffer for days before they are finally put out of their misery.
There is only one CFIA animal inspector for every two million animals that are slaughtered annually – which makes it impossible for the agency to properly enforce its own regulations and raises serious concerns for both the welfare of the animals and the safety of Canada’s food supply.
Take action - send a letter to your MP, Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Carmina Gooch’s letter of June 4th:
Re: Reforming Animal Transportation Regulations
As a Canadian citizen and taxpayer residing in the District of North Vancouver, I am writing to let you know I am deeply concerned about our ineffective and outdated legislation regarding farm animal transport in Canada. There have been no improvements in legislation in over thirty years, and the enforcement that exists is extremely lax. Despite repeated calls for updated and strengthened regulations that would improve conditions for these poor animals, the government has failed to act. Animal welfare is of great importance and action needs to be taken immediately. There can be no further delay on this matter.
Every year, more than 700 million animals are slaughtered for food, and endure grueling journeys over long distances. According to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) statistics, two to three million animals die during transport every year and another 11 million animals arrive diseased, injured or declared unfit for human consumption. I cannot imagine the horrendous conditions these animals and birds were forced to endure in order to arrive this way. Furthermore, severely injured animals are left to suffer for prolonged periods of time because surprisingly, inspectors do not have authority to euthanize them.
Animal health and animal welfare are closely linked. It's well known that keeping stressed animals in overcrowded and filthy conditions can spread disease, and that the stress and fatigue they experience during transport further exacerbates the risk. The European Food Safety Authority recommends animal transport be kept as short as possible, and in fact, most species are not permitted to be transported for more than 8 hours. Under Canada's Health of Animals Act, horses, pigs, and poultry can be transported for up to 36 hours without food, water, and being unloaded for a rest. For cattle, sheep, and goats, the limit is astoundingly 52 hours!
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) recently released a report Curb the Cruelty: Canada’s farm animal transport system in need of repair in which it is their opinion that animals are suffering unnecessarily because of weak regulations and lax enforcement.
Key findings of the report:
1. Unacceptable numbers of animals, particularly chickens, die during transport.
2. Animals are transported in overcrowded conditions.
3. Severely injured and sick animals are transported in contravention of federal regulations.
4. Severely compromised animals are transported and left to suffer for prolonged periods, sometimes days.
5. A shortage of trained animal welfare inspectors, particularly veterinarians, puts animal health and welfare at risk.
6. CFIA's reporting and enforcement are often weak and inconsistent.
7. Animals suffer as a result of poor driver training.
For full report please visit: http://www.wspa.ca/curbthecruelty/report
Once again, I am asking for your attention and action on this matter of utmost importance.
Current standards for animal transport allow:
Horses, pigs and other monogastric animals (including poultry) to be transported 36 hours without food water or rest, in addition to a 5-hour food withdrawal period;
Cattle, sheep, goats or other ruminants to be transported 52 hours within Canada without food, water or rest, in addition to a 5-hour food withdrawal period;
Rest periods need be only 5 hours following maximum travel times, until transport may begin again;
Current standards are vague, e.g., suggesting there should not be “inadequate ventilation.” Instead, the standards should specify automatic heating and cooling systems for vehicles;
Existing standards actually allow beating an animal, stating, “No person shall beat an animal being loaded or unloaded in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it.”
May 11, 2015 Chickens escape amid Hwy. 401 truck fire
Comment: This is a colossal tragedy! Please contact government politicians and help get our laws updated and enforced. Refuse to be part of the cruelty -- go vegan.
Get involved in our campaigns to stop long distance transport and live export. Canadians Against Live Export is on Facebook.
October 6, 2015 Piglets run amok on Trans-Canada in Saskatchewan after truck crash
Comment: Canada’s animal transport laws are hopelessly outdated with government paying scant attention to the welfare of farmed animals. That it’s perfectly legal for a truck to carry 2,500 baby pigs defies any sense of logic or humanity. Canada’s Health of Animals Regulations fall far below those of other developed countries. We have contacted our riding’s candidates for the approaching federal election to see where they stand on animal protection and welfare issues. Make your voice heard – take action today.
If you haven’t done so already, join the millions of others who have chosen a compassionate and healthy plant-based diet.
Read more: Animal Alliance of Canada - Farm Animals
March 3, 2016 Time to revisit animal transport rules
Comment: Please write and ask that immediate steps be taken to publish draft updates to the sections of the Health of Animals Regulations concerning the transportation of animals in Canada. For decades now, Canadians have been asking for an overhaul to our shamefully outdated transport regulations, yet the federal government has continued to delay and drag its feet on this important issue.
We have a new government in power so please take action and be a voice for the innocents. If you are not already vegan, please consider it.
December 6, 2016 New transport rules still fail animals
Comment: We, along with many others over the past decades, have repeatedly requested that the Minister of Agriculture and the Canadian government commit to an extensive overhaul not only of the animal transportation regulations but also the enforcement of these regulations. It is the duty of government, as representatives of the people, to act. While the CFIA is finally starting the process of revising current regulations, it is extremely disappointing many of the most critical issues facing animals during transport are not being addressed. Under the proposed amendments, livestock haulers will be permitted to transport animals through all weather extremes without food, water, or rest for up to 36 hours, and loopholes have been added to allow for animals to be transported for even longer times with no penalties to transporters. This is unacceptable.
Our goal should be to stop enabling the use of animals as part of the economy.
Under the planned new regulations, the basic maximum intervals for transport without feed, water and rest would be: 12 hours for compromised species and livestock eight days or younger; 24 hours for broiler chickens, spent laying hens, and rabbits; 28 hours for pigs and horses; 72 hours for day-old chicks; and 36 hours for “all other animals.
The proposed new rules do not go far enough in moving us from a primitive and unenlightened society into an age where the exploitation of farmed animals as mere production machines is viewed as unnecessary, unethical, and economically unsustainable.
Crammed into overcrowded trailers and forced to endure gruelling conditions in all weather extremes without food, water, or rest, every year in Canada more than 8 million farmed animals arrive at slaughterhouses dead or so sick or injured that they must be killed. (March 2016 news item)
March 16, 2017 The Canadian Food Inspection Agency revised its plan to impose stricter animal transport rules after being met by industry pressure – setting aside scientific evidence in favour of economic concerns, according to internal documents obtained by the Canadian Coalition of Farm Animals. In a document from July, 2015, staffers say one unidentified group “continues to voice strong opposition” to reduced transport times, citing “significant negative economic impact.” Another document outlines how an unidentified group warned that reduced transport times “would result in cessation” of an industry. Of the 951 groups consulted by the CFIA, only 12 were animal welfare groups. (Source: Globe and Mail)
We need to do more to keep our food safe
The Gazette (Montreal)
After the listeriosis outbreak in 2008 that led to the deaths of 22 people and made hundreds more ill, Ottawa assured Canadians it would cut no corners when it came to food safety. Standards would be raised and more inspectors hired to enforce them.
And it's true the country has not experienced anything like the Maple Leaf listeriosis crisis in the past two years. But that's not the same as saying there is no cause for concern. In Ontario, a listeriosis outbreak in January sent at least seven people to hospital. Two deaths are also being investigated in connection with the tainted food.
And this week, the World Society for the Protection of Animals warned that Canada's safety standards for transporting animals intended for consumption are significantly weaker than those in Europe and the United States. It based its study on reports filed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency between Oct. 9, 2008, and Jan. 9, 2009, the Globe and Mail reported this week. Such lax standards, scientists say, mean that food-borne illnesses are readily transmitted among animals crowded into transport vehicles.
Under CFIA standards, last revised 34 years ago, an inspection is required if, for example, one per cent of a shipment of broiler chickens arrives dead at an abattoir. The U.S., in contrast, requires an inspection at a threshold of 0.5 per cent. In Canada, according to the CIFA data, between 2 million and 3 million animals die every year during transportation, with another 11 million arriving at abattoirs diseased or injured.
In the 2010 Food Safety Performance World Ranking study, Canada performed well on governance and recalls, as well as on rates of inspections and audits and access to public-health information. But when it came to being able to trace the source of tainted food , Canada ranked at the bottom of the list of 17 countries, along with the U.S.
Neither country has an established "farm-to-fork" traceability system, the study said, pointing out that Canada's ability to trace tainted foods had declined between 2008 and 2010.
But the federal government has budgeted more than $100 million to ensure that there are enough inspectors and Canadians have access to safe food. One of the things we learned from 2008 is that being able to trace tainted food is at least half the battle. After the deaths of 22 fellow Canadians, the ability to trace tainted foods should be a No. 1 priority.
B.C. farms quarantined after cattle test positive for rare disease
May 30, 2010 Vancouver Sun
Two farms in B.C. were quarantined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after three beef cows tested positive for brucellosis, a rare disease that affects wild and domesticated mammals.
The disease was detected during routine testing at a slaughterhouse in the United States, which has placed import restrictions on cattle from B.C. while further testing takes place.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires "sexually intact cattle and bison" imported from British Columbia for breeding to be tested for brucellosis by a veterinarian and certified disease-free by the CFIA before they can be exported to the U.S. The disease can cause pregnant cows to spontaneously abort.
Cattle exported for immediate slaughter are not subject to the additional testing requirement, said CFIA spokesman Keith Lehman. Fees associated with the export requirements - $6 per test plus about $25 per animal for the vet visit and blood extraction - are borne by the exporting farmer.
The CFIA is taking blood samples from all the cattle on the two unidentified farms. The original samples from the U.S. will be retested by the CFIA. Results are expected in one week. All animals found to infected or exposed will be destroyed.
"We do have a protocol in place to eradicate the disease," said Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen's Association. "But for now this is an extra expense for an industry that is already losing dollars on every animal."
The last verified case of brucellosis in Canadian cattle was in Saskatchewan in 1989. Brucellosis is known to be present in wild bison and free-ranging caribou and elk across sub-arctic Canada. Lehman said the two farms under quarantine are "not close" to wildlife populations known to carry the disease.
The bacterium most commonly affects cattle, bison, deer and elk, but may also be found in sheep, pigs and humans. Although extremely rare, undulant fever may be contracted by humans who consume unpasteurized milk or dairy products or through direct contact with the reproductive tissues of livestock infected by brucellosis. Symptoms include fever, weakness, sweats, headache and back pain.
Animal-to-animal transmission is typically through milk or contact with materials related to birthing. The risk of transmission to humans through meat products is "negligible," Lehman said.