The humane slaughter of farm animals is of great concern to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS). Canada’s current humane slaughter regulations are weak, and enforcement of these regulations is inadequate.
Humane slaughter first surfaced as a major issue in Canada in the 1950s as the public became from aware of the extent of the animal cruelty in typical slaughtering practices. CFHS was created in 1957 over concerns about this issue and was instrumental in passing the Humane Slaughter of Animals Act in 1960. This Act was repealed in 1985 when legislation concerning the humane slaughter of farm animals was incorporated under the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations. These Regulations outline requirements for the humane treatment of animals leading up to slaughter as well as humane methods of slaughter.
In addition to Canada's weak slaughter regulations, the incredibly lax enforcement of these regulations results in problematic slaughter practices that go unchecked. Animals are frequently handled roughly, frightened and subjected to repeated shocks with electric prods as they are moved along the line toward slaughter.
Because government inspectors are usually absent when animals are slaughtered, the requirements under the regulations are rarely enforced. Animals are sometimes inadequately stunned (rendered unconscious) before being hoisted upside down to have their throats cut. Further, fully-conscious chickens and turkeys are sometimes hung on the line with broken legs, which cause the animals tremendous pain and suffering. Such inhumane treatment has been documented extensively through research and, more recently, via undercover video footage taken at Canadian slaughter facilities.
CFHS demands that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) be given more authority and resources to oversee the slaughter of farm animals, and for this agency to take the responsibility of enforcing existing regulations more seriously.
Read the humane slaughter requirements in the federal Meat Inspection Regulations here.