CFHS Says Gov 'Shirking' Welfare Responsiblitity

OTTAWA, CANADA - The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is calling on Canada's Auditor General to conduct an independent performance audit of the federal government's capacity to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals during transport and slaughter.
calendar icon 4 September 2008
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The CFHS also wants the government to oversee national animal welfare policies. The health and welfare of animals and the safety and security of our food are issues of public good that must be overseen and taken seriously by the government.

"Public safety, reliable access to safe food and the humane treatment of animals are in serious peril in our country""
Shelagh MacDonald, Program Director of the CFHS

The federal government's recent acknowledgement of its gradual shift towards industry's self-policing of food safety in slaughterhouses over the past year is alarming. "It is very clearly a conflict of interest to have a slaughterhouse employee tasked with monitoring his own employer", stated Shelagh MacDonald, Program Director of the CFHS. "This is a bad case of the fox guarding the hen house."

This shirking of government responsibility comes as no surprise to the CFHS, which has been frustrated for years by the government's lack of concern for animal welfare. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for overseeing the welfare of animals during transport and at slaughterplants. Their own statistics of inspections show that, out of 160,000 truckloads, nearly 20,000 pigs and cattle are found dead or emaciated in trucks arriving at slaughterplants in a year. The figure for poultry is a staggering 2 million. Yet just over 100 penalties were issued.

The problem clearly originates at the policy level. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's policy framework for the next five years makes no mention of animal care or welfare whatsoever. "While other countries are making animal welfare a priority, Canada lags behind with its 'status quo' approach", claimed Ms. MacDonald. "Public safety, reliable access to safe food and the humane treatment of animals are in serious peril in our country".

The CFHS is optimistic the Auditor General will take its request seriously, especially on the heels of the listeria outbreak.

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