Meat Inspection Act

The Meat Inspection Act[1] legislates the treatment of farm animals in federally registered slaughter facilities.

Part III of The Meat Inspection Regulations (Regulations) sets the rules for methods of slaughter as well as ante-mortem and post-mortem conditions for the animals.

meat inspection
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Section 65 of the Regulations states:

Every food animal in a holding pen awaiting slaughter shall be provided with access to potable water and shall, if held for more than 24 hours, be provided with feed.”

This means that cows, sheep or goats being transported to slaughter, can have their food withheld for a total of 81 hours: 5 hours before loading, 52 hours in transport, plus an additional 24 hours upon arrival at the slaughter plant.

Section 79 of the Regulations requires that the animal  be rendered unconscious in a manner that ensures that it does not regain consciousness before death, by one of the following methods:  a blow to the head by means of a penetrating or non-penetrating mechanical device; exposure to a gas or a gas mixture; by the application of an electrical current; or in the case of a bird or a domesticated rabbit, by rapid decapitation.  These hardly humane but legally accepted methods usually fail, leaving seriously injured and mutilated animals to suffer for long periods.

Western Hog Exchange  – AB 2014

For 2 million pigs per year, Western Hog Exchange in Alberta, Canada is their last stop before they go to slaughter.  In 2014, an undercover investigation by MFA shows pigs coming off crowded trucks who could hardly walk, being forced to move by workers, using electric prods.  Pigs are beaten and kicked by workers.  On occasion, a worker hits pigs at the back of the group with a bat even though they have no room to move forward.

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CFIA inspectors were on site to ensure compliance with Canada’s Regulations regarding the welfare of the animals from transport to slaughter.  The videotape shows them either failing to act when animals are being abused in their presence or absent from the area.  One inspector never instructs the employee to stop hitting the pigs.  On other occasions , CFIA inspectors actually grab electric prods for workers to use on pigs, including a pig who was unable to walk and had to later be put down.

The current federal laws, manner of enforcement and industry standards need to be dramatically replaced.bad laws

Sections 444 and 445 of the Criminal Code are uniquely focused on protecting the property interests of the owner, and are not concerned with the interests of the animal.  There should be no lawful excuse for wilfully or neglectfully injuring any animal.

The Codes of Practice are glaringly ineffective.  Canada’s farming industry practices are horrific and unnecessary.   The welfare of the animals should prevail over profit and indifference.  New federal legislation is urgently needed making it illegal to wilfully or neglectfully harm an animal under any circumstance.  The new law {let’s call it the Animal Welfare Act] should include standards for all phases of the farm animal’s life; from birth to death (not just transportation and slaughter).  The Health Act, Meat Inspection Act and related regulations would be repealed and replaced with a cohesive new law.

I.  Companies and their workers should be made accountable by having video cameras placed where the animals are housed.  The recordings would kept for purposes of inspection by the federal  Animal Welfare Agency as well as independent animal welfare agencies.  On-site surprise visits by independent agencies would increase the effectiveness of the new law.

II.  There should be strict regulations in place governing companies that do not provide on-site slaughterhouses.

III.  There should be mandatory inspections of all vehicles at weigh stations by the CFIA as well as independent animal welfare agencies.

IV.  Trucks should be equipped with the following:

  1. Water tanks.
  2. Mechanical ventilation and heating.
  3. Temperature monitoring systems on board to record data and have an alert system for the driver.
  4. Adequate space and bedding for animals to lie down on long trips.
  5. Tacographs and tacometers to record travel times, control speeds and distances.

V.  Drivers and workers who transport the animals should have proper training and certification.

VI.   Animals should not go for more than eight hours without food and water.

VII.  Beating, kicking, and the use of electric prods, rattle paddles, whips and tail-twisting should be prohibited.

For many companies, such as  Maple Lodge Farms, Lilydale, and Maple Leaf Foods,  paying fines is just the cost of doing business.  Since they have no interest in respecting the minimum standards of care for animals in their custody, they need to be incentivized.  Depending on the gravity and frequency of the violations, the penalties should range from $10,000 per offence to five years in prison without parole.

The following persons should be held accountable for the offences:

1.   The company.  It should no longer be protected for such crimes by its corporate veil.  2.   The company’s employee(s) who actually committed the offence.

3.   The company’s officers and directors.

4.   The transportation company (if applicable).

5.   The truck driver.

6.  The transportation company’s officers and directors.

ed rodenberg lilydale2Two sets of charges should be allowed: under (1) the Criminal Code and (2) the new Animal Welfare Act, inclusively.  In addition to discouraging animal abuse, the revenue from the violations would be used to hire more and better inspectors.

michael burrows ceoWhat is the likelihood of these legislative changes?  The animals farming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with approximately 630 million chickens[2], 21 million pigs[3], 16 million cows[4].  It has a thriving lobby in Ottawa.  The factory farmers spend millions of dollars on market research and  false advertisements.  As long as people continue to buy animal products, industry standards will not change.


The simplest and fastest change starts by simply ending the purchase and consumption of animal products.

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[1] http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/M-3.2/FullText.html

[2] http://www.chicken.ca/ask-us/question/5/how-much-chicken-does-canada-produce

[3] http://www.canadapork.com/en/industry-information/hog-production-in-canada

[4] http://beef2live.com/story-canada-beef-cattle-120-106614