Today, 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 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.
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. This historic and game-changing policy promises to reduce the suffering of millions of animals.
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.
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. 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.
It’s now time for Maple Leaf Foods’ competitor Maple Lodge Farms to stop dragging its feet and use its power and influence to reduce the needless pain and suffering animals endure on factory farms. Sign the petition calling on Maple Lodge Farms to implement a meaningful animal welfare policy here.
Of course, the best thing compassionate consumers can do to protect farmed animals is to leave them off their plates. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.