On September 4, 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”) suspended the licence of Brome Lake Ducks Ltd., a duck slaughterhouse in Asbestos, Quebec. The CFIA stated that Brome Lake Ducks had illegally abused ducks by failing to comply with the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations by handling ducks and using slaughter equipment in a manner that causes unnecessary suffering, injury or death.
The CFIA has so far failed to share any further information regarding the problems at the Brome Lake Ducks facility, and what corrective action the CFIA is requiring before it lifts the licence suspension. It is also not clear why the slaughterhouse isn’t facing charges, if it failed to comply with humane slaughter regulations.
Shockingly, Brome Lake Ducks still states on its website, “Our ducks are treated humanely”—despite the CFIA shutting down the slaughterhouse for treating ducks inhumanely.
While it is tragic that these ducks endured even more pain and suffering during slaughter than is considered acceptable under Canadian law, it is at least good to see the CFIA take rare enforcement action. Canada’s legal standards for both transport and slaughter of farmed animals have been widely criticized as weak and underenforced.
No oversight of Canadian factory farms
Most people are shocked to learn that animal welfare on farms is not regulated in Canada. Sadly, it is only when farmed animals are transported or slaughtered that there are legal standards governing their treatment in Canada. Provincial animal welfare laws generally exempt any pain and suffering caused by standard agricultural practices and there are no proactive government inspections of farms to monitor the welfare of animals. While the abuse of animals during slaughter can sometimes result in penalties due to the presence of CFIA inspectors at slaughterhouses, the vast majority of abuse on farms goes unreported.
Canadian farms and slaughterhouses urgently need stronger oversight, including publicly-shared inspection reports that inform concerned citizens and consumers when slaughterhouses violate animal welfare, workplace safety, or public health laws. It’s high time industry and governments provide this vital information to Canadians, the vast majority of whom care about the treatment of farmed animals and want more transparency and oversight in our food system, not less.
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