The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has closed three major slaughterhouses following an E. coli outbreak. Activists have also accused the Toronto-based meatpackers of cruelty to animals.
Ryding-Regency Meat Packers, Canadian Select Meats Inc., and The Beef Boutique Inc. lost their licenses after giving “false or misleading information” about the E. coli lab results.
Following the outbreak, major supermarkets were forced to pull products from their shelves. Walmart, Foodland, and Whole Foods stopped selling nearly 1,000 different beef and veal items.
Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) represents the province’s 19,000 beef farmers. It said in a statement: “This is a major blow for the beef sector in Ontario.”
But some are considering the closures a win for animals. Animal Save Movement — a global network of groups who document animals within the food system — has exposed “horrific” animal cruelty violations at Ryding-Regency.
Animal Save Movement used hidden cameras at the slaughterhouse. The footage shows cows being skinned alive. Armaiti May — a California-based veterinarian who watched the footage — told The Star: “I was horrified to see fully conscious, alert cows writhing and flailing in agony as the blood drained from their slit throats.”
Animal Welfare in Canada
Canada has been taking strides toward better animal welfare. In June, the country banned venues like aquariums and theme parks from keeping whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity.
“Canadians have been clear, they want the cruel practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity to end,” Green Party Leader and Saanich – Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May said.
More than 20 leading marine scientists and stakeholder organizations — including Humane Society International/Canada; Animal Justice; Phil Demers, the former head trainer at Marineland; and the Jane Goodall Institute — endorsed the bill.
Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International Canada, said in a statement: “Whales and dolphins don’t belong in tanks, and the inherent suffering these highly social and intelligent animals endure in intensive confinement can no longer be tolerated.”
The same month, Canada passed the updated Fisheries Act, banning the import and export of shark fins. Kim Elmslie, campaign director at Oceana Canada, named the move a “huge victory for sharks.”